stay cool, online drawback,
and back to the life

To stay cool, drive up to over 8,000’ and set up in the shade of ponderosa pines. That’s it. Simple.

Back to the life I love best—simple,isolated and time rich. Can’t get much better—fresh air, peace of mind, healthful exercise, and roaming felines. I feel so much more alive living out in Nature.

I’m presently in Colorado at 9,345’, just a few miles from the Continental Divide and the Colorado Trail. Mornings, mostly, have clear skies and calm air. Afternoons bring wind and clouds.

When it starts to get hot, I’ll look for a spot to set up with more shade. When I get out of the bag at 6:00, the inside temp has ranged from 36° to 44°. I’m sure it wouldn’t be so nippy if I did not keep the cage and bedroom windows fully open during the night. You can probably guess I’m still orienting the Nash for winter camping. Once the sun heats the inside to the lower 50s, I lower and close the back blinds, making sure the two east-facing windows are closed and closed.

When the days turn hot, there are some things one can do. Remember this is geared towards off-the-grid hard-wall campers, not using a generator and A/C.

Start the day with the trailer as cool as possible. Leave all the windows, roof vents and bathroom door fully open during the night. It will be cold some mornings; just put on a sweater until it starts warming up rather than turn on the heat. You want to maintain the cool inside temperature as long as possible.

The more shade, the more effectively you can use natural ventilation. The cooler shaded air around your trailer offsets, to various degrees, solar heat buildup on your rig. Try to have the roof shaded for as much of the day as possible. And if possible, pick a spot where there would be a good chance of a breeze. One wants to pull in cooler air and circulating air will seem cooler. Also, a spot at the end of a rainbow would be good. Look for a black pot.

At times there will not be any tree shade but two sides of the trailer will be in its own shade. In early morning, have the windows (& door) fully open on the shaded sides. Have pre-cut 1” solid foam panels or reflectix in the windows on the sunny sides and close the blinds. Work with this throughout the day. The cooler one can keep the trailer right from the get-go, the less problem heat will be later in the day.

I’m not concerned with having my solar panels in the shade. Even though all my power comes from them (even my ability to fly). The panels have quality cells and I don’t use all that much power. Different lifestyles We probably all enjoy having the door open if it is warm enough. But living by myself, I frequently find myself stopping to think, question, and access even small day-to-day aspects of my life. You can probably guess that the door is one such thing.
In the morning, when the inside temp is cooler than it is outside, keep the door closed. Remember cooler air is heavier than warm air and if the door is open, the cool inside air will just flow out the door. Not good; it needs to stay inside.

Open the door only when the outside temp is cooler than the inside temp. Often that’s not until early afternoon. Wait until the curbside of the trailer has been out of direct sunlight for a while before propping the door open. That wall will be hot from sitting in the sun and will be heating up the air against the trailer. Opening the door lets that hot air into the trailer. So wait a bit. And the more the door is opened against the side of the trailer, the more efficient air flow will be.

Use your awning. Shaded air is cooler. If you don’t have one—get one. As you know, in winter I try to setup so the 5’x3’ back window faces the rising sun. Not so in summer.

I also try to situate the trailer so there are trees on the west side to shade if from afternoon sun. The opposite works just as well. This starts to cool the rig down for when you turn in.

If there are trees tall enough to shade your rig for part of the day, stop and think when you would prefer to have your trailer in the shade before positioning the rig. Remember this is geared to off-the-grid campers. Those who have freedom on how to position their rig. There is no one around.

Tarps are inexpensive and can be set up for additional shade, even for the trailer.

Keep windows and door screens clean to get the most air flow through them.

One can order custom made sunscreens that snap on the outside of the window frame. The mesh fabric is see-through and is reported to absorb 65% to 70% of the solar heat before it enters the trailer.

Fantastic or similar fans are worth having. Remember to keep the screens clean. If the inside temp gets hot in the afternoon one can use one of these fans to get the air flowing. If you have to sit inside for some reason, sit near an open window on the shaded side where the outside air will be cooler. Close all other windows, doors, and all roof vents except the Fantastic Fan vent at the other end of the trailer. Set the fan to exhaust and turn the dial to the highest setting. It takes a while to get all the still air flowing but eventually there will be a breeze flowing in the window. The incoming heavier, cooler air will drop towards the floor, be pulled through the trailer, helping the warm, lighter air to rise and flow out the roof vent. Magic. If there are some funky air movements going on outside, they can, at times, put a damper on the smooth flow of air through the trailer. In other words, you might not have much luck. This is the gods’ way of saying, drive into town and get a room at La Quinta. If you found the black pot, you can easily afford it.

Cook OUTSIDE! Whenever you cannot, be sure to use the hood ventilator fan. But really, just cook outside. YOU do not want to be contributing to indoor heat. And don’t even think about using the oven. If you don’t want to bother with your outdoor stove first thing in the morning, layout everything you will need to make a cup of coffee or whatever on a tray the night before. In the morning, carry it out and start the water boiling while you go off to release excess fluids from your body.

Keep aware that appliances give off heat; restrict their use. One such appliance, that you can’t do without, however, is the refrigerator. Mine really heats up the air in the adjoining cabinet. The trailer benefits from airflow and so does the fridge. Check for obstructions. Remove the outside cover and see if there are any nests, spider webs, etc., in there. If so, clean them out. From time to time, remove the refrigerator cover on the roof to check for other nests and what have you.

Setup a sturdy folding table outside with a camp stove. Carry things out on a tray or two. If you are not use to this, you will be making several trips back into the trailer for items you forgot. But after a few meals, it’s second nature. You’ll be camping like a long-timer. As always, one can cook up extra and refrigerate/freeze it.

Eat cool. Gazpacho, salads, guacamole or salsa with chips, fruits, sandwiches (maybe with pesto or hummus) and the like. Roll all sorts of food up in tortillas. Stock frozen fruit and add to yogurt. Or cut up your own fruit, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it.

If you like it (and I thank the gods I do), eat spicy food. Many people in hot regions of the world eat spicy food. Spicy (hot to the taste) food increases perspiration, which cools the body as it evaporates. Capsaicin raises one’s metabolism (burns fat) and can cause a nice endorphin rush.

Drink plenty of water. Get a ½ gallon pitcher, fill it with water, put it in the fridge, and be sure you drink the whole thing each day (maybe a glass an hour). Your body will feel cooler if it’s hydrated.
If you start feeling lethargic, drink a glass of cool water. It acts like an energy drink. And go outside for a short, brisk walk to energize.

If you are going for a hike the next morning, fill one or two Nalgene liter bottles, a little more than halfway with water. Put them in the freezer overnight but have them tilted so the water reaches just below the neck of the bottles. Top up the bottles in the morning and you will have cold water on your hike. Talk about a treat.

At times, it is just going to be cooler outside under a tree than inside the trailer. So I don’t have to tell you where to go. Grab a chair; bring water, a book and binoculars.

Cool your body: soak your feet in a stream, wet your hair, mist your shirt. Being out where I like to camp, I frequently spend the hot days around camp in my boxers. You want to go with light colors and loosely-woven natural fabrics as much as you can in hot weather.

One can also set your solar shower bag up in the shade, rinse off with the cool water and let the air dry you.

Remember, we lose a good deal of our body heat through our head, neck, hands, and feet. Unless you will be out in the sun, don’t wear a hat. If on a hike, and you will be stopping for awhile, take your hat off. When indoors, go barefoot. If I start getting warm, my socks are the first things to go. It works. Hopefully you have bare floors in your trailer. If you have throw rugs, clean them and store them away for the cold months. Wear sandals outdoors so your feet don’t sweat, as in shoes, raising your overall body temperature.

If I’m going to be exerting myself out in the sun for a while, first off, I do it early morning. Just as important, I wear a long-sleeve shirt, long pants, and a hat. I had to dress like this after my transplant because of graft-versus-host-disease and I came to realize how effective it is. It works best when the heat is low in humidity. If you sweat wearing shorts and a T-shirt, the breeze and sun will whisk it away. Covered up, the moisture stays on your skin longer. If there is a breeze and it goes up your pants legs and down your shirt, you can actually get a chill. Nice. Traditional cultures in scorching temperatures of Middle Eastern deserts wear clothing covering head to toe. Besides retaining moisture, there’s protection of the skin from the hammering rays of the sun.
You can wrap an ice cube in a bandana and tie it around your neck, with cube in back, if it’s really hot.

As you can see a lot of this is just common sense. But if you’ve looked around and saw how some people prepare for hot days—you’ve seen many who don’t stop and think, let alone use common sense. Keeping the door closed helps way more than one might think.

How can this be comfortable?

If you are up for a short feel-good video, check out Sara Bareilles ‘Brave’ on youtube.

On moving days when I’ll end up on new forest roads, I’ll use a ruler, pencil, and DeLorme to figure out rough GPS coordinates where the forest road comes into the county or state road. They are not always marked and the small, back highways frequently do not have shoulders and places to pull over. When I get close, I’ll turn on my GPS (thanks Lynn) and start looking. Then, chances are I won’t be a traffic problem, but I always hope for no following vehicles.

The second thing I do is unlock one of my mtn. bikes and just have it lying over in the back of the pickup. When I get to a spur road that looks promising, I’ll pull over, park, and take the bike up the spur to check for a spot to set up camp. I don’t want to get up a narrow spur without a place to turn the trailer around. Did this once or twice and it was the pits.

I set up here the first night in Colorado. There was a creek 20 yards behind the Nash but the spot looked like it gets quite a bit of use.

In the morning, I went off mtn. biking, came across a decent spot a mile away, and moved.
Ended up with another room with a view.

When back off-the-grid with no one around, I tend to stay more attuned to Meadow and Mesa. They’re good watch cats. Sometimes they are side by side starring at something (that’s how I noticed the bobcat); or ears perked forward; maybe a change in normal body language, and occasionally Mesa growls. I’ve never had a problem but it’s nice to get a heads-up.

Meadow and I hiked up a hill on one of our walks and this shot was from up there.

Well, I experienced a drawback to my winter online orders. Wells Fargo called me about some possible invalid charges on my charge card. Yep, someone used the data but Wells Fargo nailed it quickly, checked with me, and issued a new card. I was impressed and exceedingly pleased. I don’t know how the charges caught their attention since I travel around and use the card in various western states. The twerp used it from an eastern state so that might have sent up a flag. Anyway, I’ve always been pleased with Wells Fargo, especially in this lifestyle.
Afterwards I received an email from a business I ordered from. The key sentences were:

‘We recently learned that unauthorized individuals or entities installed malicious software on the computer server we use to host our Website. We believe the malware compromised the payment card data of visitors that made payment card purchases through the Website between July 4, 2013 and February 18, 2014, including name, address, payment card account number, card expiration date and security code. According to our records, you made a payment card purchase at the Website during that timeframe, and your information may be at risk.’ Guano.

I heard awhile back, that some want to change the name of the Washington Redskins. Things like this make me think of the term—get a life. I don’t know; maybe they already settled on something. But I thought this joke was pretty cool.

‘The Washington Redskins are going to change their name because of all the hatred, violence and hostility associated with their name.
From now on they will be know simply as the Redskins.’

June Olio— spruce, pine, and fir tree?

Looking at the needles is one way to differentiate between them.

On a pine tree, the needles are grouped in clusters of two (piñon), three (ponderosa), or five (Bristlecone) needles per cluster.

Spruce and fir trees have their needles attached to the branch individually.

Now, spruce or fir?
Spruce needles are sharply pointed, square, and roll easily between your fingers.
Spruce needles attach to the branch on top of a little nib. Look along the branch where needles have fallen off and you will see the tiny nibs.

Fir needles are typically arranged in two rows and are softer, flat, and won’t roll between your fingers.
Fir needles aren’t attached on tiny nibs so the bark is smoother.

May sixty minutes sixty years— 2190 minutes
May Triple 18—pecs/delts: 4185; core: 2495; legs: 4280

When I’m reading or hear something I want to remember, I write it down. Sometimes, however, I forget to make a note of its source. For example, I forgot where I came across the following.

‘We could learn a lot from crayons.
Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull.
Some have weird names and all are different colors,
but they all have to live in the same box.’

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’


Tom said…
Lots of good info there. I hope to be able to use it in my own RV one day. Thanks...
Anonymous said…
Can I use my GPS to find that pot at the end of the rainbow?
Unknown said…
I now wish I had gone toward Gunnison instead of heading back south to Durango, maybe we could have done some hiking and biking. As I am now the N.F. campgrounds (which I can get for 1/2 price) are filling up and temps are climbing. I am moving toward Pagosa Springs to find more high elevation dispersed camping.
diana said…
Great post; actually use many of your methods at home in hot California to keep house cool. That's the way it was before electricity and AC. I'm wondering about your drinking water..... are your tanks big enough to last after a fill up in town or do you filter creek water?

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