Tuesday, August 6, 2013

$1000 town run for groceries, option error,
a flock of chicks, one cowpie,
and a lookout



Still haven’t seen much wildlife in this area. I did see the pronghorns once again and these little guys came scootin’ by one evening.

It’s been hot so I put the reflectix panel in the back window for the hours the sun is hitting it. M&M are back to using the ramp up to the window cage since their little spare tire window is covered. The ramp looks kinda strange but it works well and they readily go up and down it.

When I make a town run, I close the windows and crank the roof vents down most of the way. Partly for security (as if a 12 year old couldn’t break into a trailer) and partly in case it rains. I’ve left under clear skies and come back in pouring rain. If the day is going to be hot, I put food and water out for M&M and leave them outside so they can find cool spots. Remember, we’re not in campgrounds.
That done, I loaded the Dodge with laundry, MacBook, town bag and whatnot, and went to pull away from camp. No power steering (I had no idea it could be such a problem). I looked in the fluid reservoir—no power steering fluid. A few miles up dirt roads, twenty miles from a town and, as no surprise, no cellphone coverage. Anyway, I headed for town. 3-point turns had a new meaning—they only gave me 90 degrees. I was hoping I could make the left turn at the light in town without being too disruptive. I filled up the reservoir in town and it seemed to take care of things (the gods were merely playing with me). I pulled over to look for the leak but the fluid was not just coming from a leak in a line or connection. I ended up at a garage that a local recommended. Unlike most trucks, mine has the rack & pinion connected to the tie rods like on passenger cars. Not exactly the best configuration for pulling a trailer down rough dirt roads. The mechanic drove me the 20 miles back to camp and a week later brought the Dodge up. In the past, all this would probably have been somewhat stressful to me but I wasn’t really dwelling on it. That first evening, however, I’m sitting outside and it dawned on me that this is fire season and I have no means of evacuating with my trailer. Now THAT, was somewhat unsettling. I’ll be purchasing 2 cat carriers and picking up my large Lowe backpack from my 5x8 when I get back to southern NM—the old Boy Scout thing.

Well, I made one mistake with the Nash options. The solar system on my last rig worked fine and since I don’t use all that many amps in a day, I didn’t put much thought into the system I ordered for the Nash. I had one 50watt panel along with one 12V battery in the Casita. There was no trouble keeping the charge above 12.25 and it was generally 12.6 or 12.7. I rarely had to run the Honda 1000 to charge the battery and then for only an hour or two.
Now I know that a 60watt panel will not bring up and maintain two 6V batteries at a full charge. But recently I’ve been checking the batteries and their charge does not always jive with the solar control panel so I’m hoping the panel is the problem. I have to pull the Honda out once or twice a week, and after running it for 4 hours the charge only gets up to 12.6 (& once 12.7). In two hours without using anything in the trailer other than the drain from the built in devices, the charge drops to 12.5. After only using 2 LED lights for 3 hours in the evening, the solar controller reads 12.2 or less when I got up the next morning. I don’t know about this stuff but it seems like something is wrong. The solar charge controller never worked properly right from the get-go and the company is already on their 2nd revision since I got the trailer. Sounds like a faulty controller. Maybe it is somehow restricting the charge or is more of a drain than it should be. I tried to get some insight from a book on maintaining 12V systems but I remain clueless. If any of you have some ideas or are open to some questions I have, please email me.

I have an appointment next week to have an additional solar panel installed on the roof and, hopefully, the dealer will replace the solar charge controller.
Since I’m away from my rig most mornings and random times during the day, I did not want to go with portable, ground panels. So we’ll see. I HATE running a generator!

Jim and Barb. I’m set up in a nice quiet spot, so I pulled out your ‘Stories From the Vinyl Café.’ I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I thought it was going to be all Dave & Morley stories (which are good) but it is so much more. Not the kind of stories Stuart would tell on his weekly program. I love getting caught off guard in a good way. Thanks again for the book.

Something I did not pick up on when I started contributing to Heifer International was their tradition of ‘Pass on the Gift.’ “Each family who receives the gift of livestock and training in its care agrees that they will ‘pass on’ one of their animal’s offspring to another family…who also agrees to Pass on the Gift, and so on, for generation after generation. This requirement allows Heifer to reach many more people in need than would otherwise be possible.”

I’ll continue to purchase a goat each solstice. And for each equinox, I decided to contribute a flock of chicks. The following paragraph from their site sold me on the idea.

“A flock of chicks can help families add nourishing, life-sustaining eggs to their inadequate diets. The protein in just one egg is a nutritious gift for a hungry child. Protein-packed eggs from even a single chicken can make a life-saving difference. Heifer helps many hungry families with a starter flock of 10 to 50 chicks. A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year - plenty to eat, share or sell. With Heifer recipients' commitment to pass on the offspring and training, the exponential impact of adding chickens to communities in poverty is truly a model that helps end hunger and poverty. Because chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available food scraps, families can make money from the birds without spending much. And chickens help control insects and fertilize gardens.”


This paragraph is for cat people. You have or have had a cat who covers up messes made by other animals. Mesa is one. I woke up one night to the sound of munching. I looked out and saw a number of cows grazing in the moonlight. Come morning, I let M&M out and followed them a couple minutes later. A cow had dropped a pie 20’ straight out from the door. And there was Mesa, scooping grass and dirt onto the pie with a forepaw. A COW PIE! I rarely start the day off with a laugh but this was the funniest thing I’ve seen this summer.


Out biking one morning I came across the Dry Soda Lookout. I stopped, went up to the gate and met Sandy. She was about to open the tower and invited me along. I’m scared of heights but there was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity. Steepest stairs I’ve ever climbed. The last section was pretty much a ladder. I’ve been up a tower before, probably back in the Adirondacks, but only to the trap door since the lookout was closed for the season. This was the first time I got to go inside.
One picture is of an Osborne Fire Finder. I thought they would be high-tech by now but they still use the Osborne—tried and true, simple, and works well. My kind of thinking.

Sandy has been working lookout towers for 20 years. Prior to that she fought fires. I had a great time talking with her. I can’t see myself working again but if I came across an opening for such a position, I would probably go for it. Since I enjoy solitude and the outdoors so much, it would be worth trying. I heard these jobs were hard to come by but Sandy said there are some available from time to time. She heard of two where, after a short time, the people just up and quite, and another that they could not find someone to fill. Hmm.


The winch drops to a large bucket. There is a propane line running up the tower to run the stove, fridge, and heater and a bank of batteries to run all the radios. With the bed over in a corner, it would be easy to live up there but most people park their RV down below and spend the nights there. But some lookouts are accessed by roads too rough to get an RV up.

July sixty minutes sixty years—1900 minutes
July Triple 18—pecs/delts: 1935; core: 2040; legs: 2195

Once the game is over, the king and the pawn
go back into the same box.
forgot which novel I got this from


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006

3 comments:

Tom said...

Thanks for another great blog. Have a look at the following two websites concerning RV Solar. Bob and Jack are two RV solar authorities. Handybobsolar.bolgspot.com and http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm#Using+a+30-amp+Inverter+in+a+50-amp+RV

Regards,
Tom

Spotted Dog Ranch: said...

Enjoy your blog, wish you posted more often.

NWBound said...

t appears that the original stock converter/charger in your trailer is the usual crappy type that RV manufacturers put in. Hence, it took forever to charge using the Honda generator.

A Progressive Dynamics PD9245C smart charger which can stuff 45A into your batteries will take much less than 4 hrs to bring them up way way past 12.7V, and fill them to the gill.

A DC (not AC!) clamp-on ammeter like the $53 Craftsman sold by Sears is indispensable for RV'ers.