Saturday, January 31, 2015

Powered and Simple

I was a techy! In my past life when working for an income. As a Project Administrator and Program Support for both IBM and the State of Virginia among other positions, I built web sites, designed and buit databases and repaired both hardware and software. Then...I spent years off grid - like really off grid - no lights, no solar, no mechanical anything.  Well I did have a Vortex blender for a while!  Most of my years in Costa Rica were spent off grid. I was raised in a family homesteading situation and homesteaded four other times. (I got tired of losing homes)

Among RTRers and RVers power systems seem to run 85% of the conversations and the rest of the conversations are about how to use the toilet! Well not really although it feels like that.

I like Low Tech!  (Yes Wolf I do enjoy your company as well) I prefer to live a Low Tech lifestyle. I also gather information, practice using it in practical terms and store it mentally because it is only useful to me that way.  I think that solar stuff is kewl.and wind powered stuff. And anything that is free and renewable and practical. I learn from the past and history. Historical life and primitive living skills are useful.

I've heard too many people lately talking about thier power systems or dream systems and how much stress they put on themselves over the money they need or spent and how they will put off the safety of replacing a bad tire or upgrading a truely bad drive battery in their vehicle in order to get the 'right system'.

I am living with a low income and have myself on a strict budget for this year. I have an old van and I have to do maintenance and repairs often. I want a life just like others do. I have a smart cell phone, a tablet, books to read (man I miss my Kindle reader), crafts to make to pass the time. I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and like to turn on a light!

I am offering up some advice here - before you get into debt or borrow from your kids/whoever, please do yourself a favor and get an LED Volt Meter. Even if you are not traveling. If you charge cell phones in your car it pays to get one. Learn how to read it - its truely not rocket science!  Now charge your phone. Then check your Volt Meter. Then charge your tablet. And check your Volt Meter. Use a light in your vehicle.  Check your Volt Meter!  Remember knowledge is power! If your Volt Meter shows your battery as low then unplug your travel chargers and turn on your engine. You just learned how to manage the life of your vehicle's drive battery. In the picture below, you will see my Volt Meter. Mine has three lights and a readout. When the lights are all lit the drive battery is full and in good shape. I have learned to monitor my battery by the numbers as well.  When my readout is at 12.3 or 12.2 then I stop charging things until I either run the engine or drive somewhere.

For lights I have choices. I like options. I have been in the dark. I have candles for use outside or in an emergency (they can help start a fire in windy conditions.) I also have flashlights and a headlamp.  The van came with some of the first low power usage LED mood lights. I added one LED lightbulb to one of my van's fixtures.  Because LEDs use so little power it is economical for me to use that light running on the power of my drive battery - I always check the Volt Meter before and after using that light. I also have had a solar powered Luci light.I love Luci BUT the company has had to replace mine three times in the two years that I have been using them! Unfortunately the switches go bad at about 6 months of daily use. Luci lights are affordable, self contained and put out enough lumens to read by. I'm waiting for yet another replacement from the company as we speak. I have also borrowed a friend's tiny battery and LED light system. I really like this one. I see potential for charging this with a small solar panel. I expect that this could keep a cell phone charge as well.

Solar systems.  I had a portable Solar Gorilla system complete with battery pack while in Costa Rica. It worked very well for keeping a cell phone and netbook computer charged. I had one on my van for four months. It was a low end Harbour Frieght system that some friends and I mounted to the roof rack on my van using zip ties. I could not afford a sealed agm battery and was given a small one that I think was a 33 amp hr wheelchair battery. The system could not improve my life in that particular configuration. I already had lights and cell phone charging under control. When driving I often worried about the panels flying off the roof and hitting the car behind me. My priorities changed from becoming more like my vandwelling friends to that of both safety and peace of mind. I found a great cause and donated the panels. Then I continued to use the battery with a portable trickle charger for nearly a year. That same battery and solar trickle charger was moved to my Scamp. Just a short time before I sold the Scamp the wind caught the solar trickle charger panel and it landed upside down on the rocks. It no longer put out a charge. I have used a trickle charger solar panel to power a 12V fan with out a battery in the heat of sunny days. I have used reverse diode solar trickle chargers to successfully keep my drive battery full when I didn't want to drive.

I simply want to share there may be other ways to handle your needs. Let it be ok for you (and me) to think outside the box. Gain knowledge of how you use things and what is truly important for your life and situation. If you have to have a cold Coca Cola with ice in order for your life to be okay. Find a way to make that happen. Please be safe but know that it may have to take time for you to get there - or not! Don't sacrifice safety for that one can get free ice and a small cooler and keep a few drinks on hand while you safely manage your power needs. Sometime I will let you know how I changed my mind about needing a refrigerator and live happily without one. Yes I enjoy an icy iced coffee every once in a while.

Simply Quiet in Camp

I actually slept in this morning. I think that Ozzie woke me about 7:30 am.

I have been at the Post RTR Campsite in Ehernberg AZ. At times the activity has been overwhelming. Some of the guys left for Slab City and others for Fortuna Pond in Yuma. This morning was VERY quiet.

My fire pit became the central meeting location. Someone decided and announced that people should be here at 10 am each morning!  And in the evenings the fire would be stoaked and some more story sharing would end the day. It got rather busy and occasionally was busy the whole day. I prefer people to come early, even in thier jammies, when I am busy and have a pot of coffee on because we chit chat and by 10 am we all are ready to go get dressed and start the events of the day. Which means that I get a little break. I don't mind at the least if people gather again around 4 pm, with thier drinks in hand and visit and share their updates of the day while I might be making or thinking about making supper. That may turn into a relaxing evening around the fire. Occasionally the meal may turn into a community event which is fine when we all contribute in some way - I love sharing my cooking skills with others!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Simply an adventure!

In the shape of a trip to Phoenix and back today!  Whew.

My cellphone GPS simply is wierd. took us through downtown Phoenix and around the industrial section. I maneuvered well. I am a good driver. I think that I only had a second or two of spoken frustration. With traffic and quite a bit of rain I had to stay focused and even needed to ask my passenger to not talk to me for a while during the more difficult moments. No one was offended and we are back at camp safely - although Vantucket needs more work and I am glad to have taken Mechanic Mike along.

Ozzie is a trooper. He had to ride with his seat belt on for hours with only short walks. Though he will be able to run tomorrow.

More soon. ...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Simply Ehrenberg where the wind never quits!

Hi everyone! Ozzie and I have been hanging out in Ehrenberg. I don't even remember how many days we have been here.

The sunrises and sunsets are lovely! In fact I am laying in my bed in the van watching the sunrise now as I write to you using my phone.

Vantucket is better. I took her for a test drive yesterday. I took a new New England traveling buddy along. We went over to Blythe California. My buddy had not been in California yet. It was kewl to see her reaction which was similar to the one that I had three years ago. Reacting to the odd border crossing as well as the change in landscape.  We shared lunch at La Paloma which is a very traditional "soda" or Central American restraunt. Then I showed her the town's important stuff like the Ace hardware store, KMart, Dollar Tree and the fabulous new Smart and Final supermarket. We popped into the Rite Aid for one last item and discovered that they have an ice cream counter inside. So we topped off the trip with an ice cream - I had black cherry. And then we drove back to Ehrenberg AZ.its only 7 miles from Blythe to our camp.

Ehrenberg is wide open desert. The wind can be crazy here. It's not my favorite camp location. Though after the RTR, Bob brings the group out here. There is lots of room to spread out and get distance. There is no patrolling by rangers and no permits required. Essentially you can stay as long as you want. Some camps have been here for years. I recognized a few that have been here over my three years of traveling this area.

Bob asked if I minded him using my firepit area as a central 10 am chit chat meeting location. I of course agreed - people are meeting here all day long anyway. Often my coffee is on and something is cooking. Yesterday I was tired of meals with meat and so breakfast became Apple Crisp for the gang. Actually I am thanking the mechanics and greasing thier generosity wheels by making a few treats and meals. Sharing is fun anyway.

On a personal note - I feel tired and the muscles in my face and back ache.I know that the weather and wind can be exhausting although I can't decide if that's all that I am feeling. ..probably there is some emotional exhaustion as well. I have been very tired of the problems and repairs and financial struggle of keeping my van running well and safely. I don't think that I do well with responsibility anymore.  I am looking forward to a relationship or partner to share lifes ups and downs with.

Ozzie just woke up and wants some attention. Early morning is our cuddle or play time. So I will get back to you all.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Simply more Vantucket adventures

Vantucket is an old girl as far as vans go. Living the Vandweller/full time tiny RV lifestyle takes its toll on both vehicles and owners because we drive a lot and we are in them so many hours. Wear and tear is normal.  It can be annoying - And upsetting. And worrisome. It can happen a lot or only once in a while - but we do what we need to do to meet the maintenance needs and keep our vehicles in tip top shape because it is all we have. Some of our incomes are limited and limit our choices for both travel as well as for the prioritizing of maintenance.

Luckily, after the sale of my Scamp, I was able to finally keep an Emergency Fund. Even though past repairs were mostly put on a credit card which has me on a tight budget as I pay that off as quickly as possible.

I am rather sensitive to changes in my vehicle and never felt completely satisfied with the last work done on my front end. While driving from Quartzsite to Ehrenberg AZ a couple days ago, a sound and odd feeling made me drive slowly and change my mind about stopping anywhere along the way. I came straight to camp. Parked and decided that the van was not moving until I knew what was wrong. Mechanic Mike and the other guys at camp took a look and mentioned tie the desert surgery began. Unfortunately the prognosis is not so good and after some typical mechanic shop swearing and multiple trips to the parts store - Vantucket will go to a shop for new ball joints and alignment.  The desert mechanic shop gave her new bearings and tie rods today - and included a heart stopping oh shit - where is everyone, is anyone hurt, what the hell am I going to do now moment when the van fell off the jacks.

So I walked.
Tried to find a tree to pee behind - there aren't many here at this camp.
I cried.
I fummed about not wanting to live like this anymore.
I drank a coffee with a shot of brandy - it wasn't that good.
I made stew.
I'm tired now and I am sending the van to the shop with someone else because I can't handle anymore stress.

I will be ok.
And I will keep you posted.

BTW RTR was great and tiring and fun and...I love seeing my friends and starting the first fire of the day and making coffee.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Omgosh this is a pretty truck!

1950 chevy 3100 truck 1950 chevy truck, 25k cash obo s-10 frame 2005 5.3l motor 700r4 trans power steering new int. lokar shifter oak bed new ball joints and bushings all origanial 1950 steel been everyday driving the truck for 4 weeks now. very fast and reliabl [...]

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Simply Surprise after Surprise!

RTR continues. We have over a hundred people here and many pet owners with well behaved dogs. Ozzie is exhausted from making doggy friends and visiting with his uncle, godfather and other people friends. I often find him surrounded by toys simply looking passed out in his doggie bed!

Evelyn and Charlie (the giant poodle) arrived yesterday. They seem to be having a great time. Once around a campfire we were all laughing so hard and Evelyn leaned over to tell me she was enjoying that and that it had been a very long time ago when she laughed so hard.

Yesterday afternoon we shared a community Chili dinner complete with corn bread and corn chips and hot sauce. It was good (I didn't even need to take any benedryl! )

I'm making pots of Cowboy Coffee on my tiny cook fire. I am also loving and using my Dutch Oven every day.

I baked whole wheat raisin bread in my dutch oven on Friday. We were able to share toast with butter along with morning coffee.  I snuck off for a while by riding into Blythe with Mechanic Mike. When returning to camp we noticed a Scamp travel trailer behind us....
Omgosh it was Ms Marsha with her Scamp that she bought from me! And she was headed in for the RTR! 


And kewl.
I'm just lying awake trying to let my mind settle from all the excitement.'s kind of a frustrating feeling waiting so I decided that writing a blog post may help.

I will try to take more pictures tomorrow - especially since tomorrow is Miss Lily's 10th birthday! A little bird told me that we are having cake at 1 pm!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Simply the RTR neighborhood

It's been an annual event for Five years. ..the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous!

For 2015 the official welcome message is today and the last morning meeting wii be next Sunday. Not sure if the event  schedule is legible, I tried.

The RTR neighborhood started filling in a week ago! Some pictures below. .. RTR Main Street is the main drag off the dirt mining road with Bob Wells, and organizer of this group created event, is on the East end and currently Donna & Mark are on the  West end. To the Left of RTR Main St and just in front of the main fire pit and Free Tarp is RTR Central Park - that is where I am and Karen & Tony, Mr. Sandy from Canada and Nelda & Jerry. To our Left (the fork in the road is just before Bob's & Judy's rigs which are on RTR Main St) is RTR South there are three different off shoot Lanes - one is Vardo Lane where Lou has his green beauty! To the Right of RTR Main St, accessible from the mining road is RTR North it's a bit further out though close enough as well.  Now there are a few people camped to our far South on acess lanenes available before the entrence to RTR Main Street.

See you all here!
Its been busy all ready with a shared lunch and little fires as we reconnect after sometimes years apart!

Please don't worry if you don't hear from me in the next few days. ..I will try to write and keep you in the loop!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Simply Brrr ---

But then everyone is talking about that my friend Steve-Nemo got 14" of snow in the Payson area, Ms Evelyn in Cottonwood got 5"...I've had ice in the coffee pot and solid frost/ice on the inside of my windows. By the way the Kandle Heeter helps dry up the condensation in the air so not much frost.

I'm entertaining an old RTR friend who made it down from the north east. We went shopping yesterday although by two we were headed back grumbling about the craziness of drivers and even grocery store shoppers. A nice campfire and grilled burgers and a glass of wine helped calm that inner grumpy monster from earlier in the day.

Ozzie is well. He had a rash that seemed to be an allergy. After changing his newer dog food he seems better. He loves running around with his sweater on meeting people and doing his self appointed job of keeping the ducks off shore near our camp.

Stay warm people! Be careful with your heaters and candles and campfires!

I've had senior moments wondering why I made this or that decision and if I should make a change - sometimes waiting is the best way to handle that.

Make the most of today!