Wednesday, January 8, 2014

pretty much does it for electric hookups, rigs,
staying warm and the first of 12 olios



Well, except for possibly another few days, I’m pretty much done with an electric hookup for the winter (I don’t hook up to water or sewer). I got to Oliver Lee on January 2nd and I don’t get an electric hookup there, nor do I take an electric site at City of Rocks. I’ll be here at CoR for three two-week stays. I love taking a morning run to the top of the mesa (wish I could do it on back-to-back days). Then that should do it for campgrounds until some time in December. Back to the life!

At Oliver Lee, I went for an early 2 ½ hour hike each morning. One thing that stood out this time at the park was that there was a hiker/s coming up the trail each day as I was hiking down. In the past, I rarely saw another hiker. They were all locals, however, no RVers from the park. Showers were better than at Santa Rosa and Brantley but not as good as Bottomless. Jerry pulled into Bottomless an hour before I was set to pull out. It was good to see him again and catch up on things since last winter. He has been keeping his weight down and walking regularly. Remember, he had his heart attack him last winter. He also told me a mutual acquaintance died. She was living with her partner in the back of a pickup for the last few years. She was diagnosed with cancer and was dead in a month. I wonder if breathing all the guy’s second hand smoke had anything to do with it. I love you Sweetie, but I can’t give up my drug for you; I don't love you THAT much. Just like you see with parents and grandparents and their children. Should be outlawed. Then maybe they will learn how to cope with day-to-day life without resorting to drugs. Like that’s ever gonna happen.

Most take an electric hookup for granted since they pretty much have one all the time. I look forward to them since I’ll only have them for two months in the winter. I enjoy the freedom of disperse camping and, thank the gods, there are no hookups out there, which keeps a good deal of the RVers out of the sticks.
With an electric hookup, I have extra LEDs on in the evening; a ceramic heater is running when it’s cold; the Coffee House on SiriusXM is generally playing; and I’m catching up on pdf books on the MacBook. It seems kind of basic, but if one rarely has a hookup, it becomes quite a treat. If one is into simple living, it does not take much to make something special. Like baths, I like hot, foam baths. A couple times a year I take a room in a Best Western and take two baths (breaks down to only $40 a bath). Soaking in a hot bath with a paperback definitely puts a smile on my face. I know, I know, not exactly a macho guy thing, but it’s not as if I care. The wi-fi is an added bonus. Kinda strange.

I stayed at one park that offers wi-fi (although it’s possibly the weakest signal I’ve come across). It’s convenient when reading a book, to have web access to check on something that was mentioned in the text. Again, sounds like no big deal but…

I’m enjoying the Nash for winter living, over my last trailer. I like the space and the big back window. Next month I’ll probably write an update on life in the Nash.


I’ve come across some pretty cool rigs over the years. I once saw an RV towing a small helicopter. That definitely gave me a grin. While living down in Naco and driving the Bisbee bus, I saw an older class C pulling a yellow mini submarine. Way cool! I wonder if they were heading down to the Sea of Cortez. Another rig was geared to my lifestyle. It was a high, rugged 4-wheel drive army surplus flatbed. On the back was a Hi Lo or similar trailer. Very nice, wish I could have talked with the driver.

Okay, how does one stay warm without an electric hookup? First, head to a lower latitude and elevation where the days are mostly sunny. Second, make sure the trailer is parked so the days’ first sunrays are coming in two or three windows whenever possible. And try to position the trailer so it stays in the sun for the entire day.

You really do not want to be using your awning in the cold months, even though you will see rigs with them out. This is sometimes called, lack of common sense. You want the sun heating up your rig. Shading a side of it kinda defeats the purpose.
If it’s warmer outside than inside and sunlight is hitting the door, open it to recirculate the air in the rig and let some warm air in. Close the door before it becomes shaded.

There’s also the basics: check around windows and doors for leaks (stand there with a candle); add insulation in cupboards against outside walls, in basement lockers and wherever you can think of, and fit foam insulation in the roof vent wells. If you use the furnace, a magnetic register cover can be used over a floor vent at one end of the rig if you won’t be using the area during the day. I don’t do any of these but they definitely have merit. If I stayed up north, I’d be doin’ them.

If the outside door is a problem, one can put up a rod/dowel above the door and using large curtain hoops, hang a blanket or long throw rug in front of the door. This can help quite a bit with cutting down the draft, probably more so in older rigs. I know it works.

One can put up heavy winter drapes on some windows (open when the sun is shining). I picked up some insulating drapes that I was going to use this winter but haven’t gotten around to using them. It hasn’t been getting much below the low 20s so I haven’t bothered.

One thing to try on sunny, but really cold, windy days is hanging a clear shower curtain over windows that receive sunlight. This will keep some of the cold air from coming in while allowing the warmth from the sun to come in.

One can cut foam insulation panels to fit window frames for insulation during the night. I use reflectix instead. Nowhere near the R factor (I think it only rates as 1) but I don’t care all that much. I follow the geese so the nights are not generally all that cold, 30s and 20s, some in the teens, and rarely in the single digits or below. It’s not as if I can’t deal with a few cold nights—I’m a camper. So far, I’ve only put up the reflectix a couple nights (I used it way more on summer days against the sun). I only put it up in 2 or 3 of the 5 windows. I’m sure I will be using the panels more here at CoR, but only if NOAA reports it will be going down to 20 or colder. Different strokes. The rig is definitely a few degrees warmer in the morning when I have put up the panels. I store them in the space behind the head in the bathroom. My furred deicer loves when I use the panels. Mesa goes at the frosted glass as soon as I take them down (no window frost when the reflectix is not used).

Rugs help prevent heat loss through the floor. Also, they are generally warmer to the touch than the bare floor, and so offer a warmer surface to stand on. I put a short 28” throw rug down in the galley and another 28” rug where I step out of bed (and store them away in warm weather, for the same reason). Once the rig warms up in the morning, I pick the two rugs up and put them away for the day.

A candle/candles produce heat (just use common sense). And Google > flower pot heater.

Close whatever doors you have to stop air from circulating as much and reduce heat loss.

One can always cook (well, some can). The oven will help dry the air and provide heat. Bake some cookies and take them to your neighbors. Watch what you are doing on the stovetop, however. Steam will increase humidity in the air and make your rig feel damp. You want to keep the humidity low in cold weather to feel warmer. Humidity (water vapor) has the ability to absorb more heat than dry air. Not good. You know how it is to be along coastlines in cold weather. The cold goes right into your bones.


I still don’t keep heat on during the night. When I get up in the morning, the inside temp is around 15 degrees warmer than the outside temp. I turn on the furnace for 30-45 minutes until the inside gets up to 50. I then turn it off and light the Wave6 to bring the inside temp up to around 60, when I then turn off the Wave. By then the sun is up and shining in the big back window and one or two others, bringing the inside temp up the rest of the way. If the inside temp is already in the upper 40s, I’ll just light the Wave6. I’m sure RVers would think this is absolutely nuts but campers seem to be of hardier stock or maybe, just take stuff like this in stride, as part of the lifestyle

As to actually keeping yourself warm—soak in a hot tub (don’t I wish). Drink warm beverages and vegetable broth to raise your core temp throughout the day. And remember the old winter standards of hot soup and hot mulled cider.

I wear a fleece vest or light fleece jacket inside during the cold months. If I’m sitting reading, I’ll wrap a fleece throw blanket (thanks Lisa) over my shoulders if I need a little more warmth. I don’t use the furnace all that much. The Wave, yes, the furnace, no. Colder temps might have me adding a scarf and fleece hat. Keep in mind that this is all coming from a camper’s mindset. If I’m just sitting there reading and drinking hot tea, I’d rather bundle up than use the furnace. Wear layers, turtlenecks are good, and slippers or heavy socks if you will be up and about. If it is going to be cold all day, one can always put on long underwear. Remember we lose most of our body heat though our head & neck, as well as through our hands and feet so dress accordingly. I’m comfortable living like this. If I wasn’t—I’d turn on the frickin’ furnace. Not big deal. It’s not as if I think I’m roughing it—I’m in a trailer! Maybe if the heating units and fridge quit working, it might be rough for a bit. If I wanted to rough it, I’d go back to tent camping.

I let the sun determine how I sit at the back settee. I don’t just sit facing the table. For the most warmth, once the sun has heated up the huge back window, I’ll put a throw pillow behind my back and lean against the back wall, facing the front of the trailer and stretching my legs out along the bench seat.
Once the rig (and me) is all warmed up, my favorite sitting position at the settee is facing aft, looking out THREE windows. I lean the back piece of my Remington Low Rider against the end of the galley counter and stretch my legs out on the bench seat. It’s also the most comfortable.

The Wave6 is set up with a 10’ rubber hose. It can be pulled out into the galley and turned so it faces aft. It then has a much smaller area to heat and I rarely have it on high. Simple and quite effective.

Insulated water can retain heat for a long time, making a hot water bottle an inexpensive and effective way to stay warm. If I had one, I couldn’t leave it sitting around. I’m sure I would find a cat on it.

If one starts to get chilled, instead of turning on the furnace, one can do some exercises or get up and dance until you break a sweat. This will warm you up and keep you warm for a bit afterwards. Again, not the norm. Be aware that a healthy/active body, with its better circulation, is generally more tolerant of the cold.

When you turn in, wear socks and don’t sleep up against an outside wall.


This doesn’t keep you warm but if you use the water lines in cold weather, lower cabinet doors can be left open to ensure heat gets to the water lines. My Holiday Rambler had a length of a water line routed through a cold spot and if I didn’t leave two doors open, it would freeze up. But I was spending the winter were it was pretty cold.


If you are camping in cold weather wo/hookups and not using your city water holding tank, you probably use a number of Reliance jugs or whatnot for your water supply. Even leaving room for expansion when the water freezes isn’t always enough. The jugs can still crack. Yep, know this for a fact. I’m having better luck with 5gal buckets (#2s) with slit easy-to-remove watertight lids. I keep two of them just inside the door when the night temps will be down in the 20s or less. Every day in cold weather, I top up the 4gal Reliance that I keep in the galley. Plan ahead. You don’t want to go out in the morning for water and realize all your water containers are frozen. Yep, this is hard-wall camping, not RVing.

It’s hard for me to believe I’m still above the ground; I should have been in an urn a few years ago. Not that I’m grousing. These days I try not to settle, or waste time, even when it comes to people. I more or less quickly assess a person, and if they don’t exhibit certain qualities, I pretty much write them off. It’s not that my standards are overly high, but there are traits I look for. If I see these, I’m pretty much assured that I will enjoy the person’s company. I guess at this point, I focus on quality time. If it’s not going to be there with a person, I’d just as soon be by myself, whose company I enjoy. And it gives me time for all the interests and activities I’m into. And it works both ways; a person can just as easily want nothing to do with me. I have a tendency to not bite my tongue if someone is standing there blowin’ smoke. Different strokes.

Remember M&M’s 18gal mega litter box? I didn’t think it was going to be a problem. Wrong once again. Not really a problem, just costing me more money. They used to pretty much void their body wastes outside. Now they frequently hold it until they come in and use the litter box. I wonder if they make mini Tasers. A box of litter used to last for months. No more. Except for when I’m in the parks, I dig more cat-holes than they do! You probably did not want to know that.

I still have not used the microwave or oven. I had planned to use the microwave for potatoes when I had an electric hookup but never got around to it, next winter. This past summer I started picking up a frozen pizza on my town trips (Paul Newman offers a decent portabella mushroom pizza). I cut it up and freeze it (it takes me a few days to eat a pizza). Then I take out a slice and cook it in a small covered fry pan on my camping stove. What a treat. I also remembered something I enjoyed doing on backpack, canoeing, and bike touring trips—cooking popcorn on a stovetop. Heat the pan, add and heat the oil, put two kernels of corn in and when they pop, add enough kernels to just about cover the bottom of the pan. Keep shaking the pan so the bottom does not get burned. A girlfriend and I did this on our nine-week bike tour through Europe in ’79 and we frequently had other campers come over to our spot, drawn by the sound. Way cool. It’s not as if they sold Jiffy-Pop in the small French towns along the backroads we traveled. You could hold your breath and bicycle through these towns before you had to breath again.

Brantley Lake SP isn’t the same without Heather and Donald as hosts. They were the best, by far, I’ve come across. I learned so much from them. Now Adrian and Ray are no longer there. They both took positions at The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. I saw Adrian in Albertsons and he updated me on how the four of them are doing. That was an unexpected treat. Heather tried a new treatment for her MS and she is able to walk around a bit. Glad it worked for her. I dropped off the westerns I’ve read over the last year to Kenneth at the laundromat on Church. Remember he’s the one who only reads westerns. Only spent a week at Brantley rather than a month or more as in past winters.

January Olio (pronounced ‘oh-lee-oh & means hodgepodge; miscellaneous collection of things—this is the first of 12)
Olios are probably redundant since most of my monthly pages are a mishmash. (^_^)
alcohol burning aluminum can stove


Larry and Judy used these as their only stove on their long, canoe camping trips. This is one I made from two beer cans I got from Jerry, following directions posted on youtube. For a cleaner look, I brushed the lettering off. It works really well. Thanks, Larry.

December sixty minutes sixty years—1870 minutes
December Triple 18—pecs/delts: 1930; core: 2050; legs: 3090

How dull life would be if everything fit into a slot.


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

4 comments:

Cabinguy said...

Sebastian,
I know that there's not much action in your comment section but I have been following your blog for the past couple of months and have gone back to the beginning and read every entry.

I'm moving towards a life where I can retire to a life closer to the cycles and yours is one of the few sources I have found for people who seem to understand what it means to live close to nature.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to share your life and perspective. Just know that your efforts go out like ripples on a pond to change the world.

Tom said...

I rarely comment on blogs although I look forward to all your post.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Spotted Dog Ranch: said...

Hey, looking forward to your Feb post...