December 24, 2017 § 6 Comments
We’ve had no rain here in the Sonoran Desert since before we arrived in November. But one of the creosote bushes has graciously offered to be our Christmas tree this year.
December 2, 2017 § 3 Comments
After a summer at D & W Lake Campground in Champaign Illinois that saw 33 medical appointments, procedures, and various recovery periods between the two of us, we were eager to leave that environment for the relaxing open skies of the southwest. So, the minute we got the OK from the doctor on the last proceedure in mid-November, we took off and went straight through to Arizona.
It’s so nice to be here on the gravelly desert at LaPosa LTVA near Quartzsite Arizona. After spending the summer with a full hookup, it didn’t take long to switch into full boondock mode. Including near full reliance on solar energy.
We did have to replace one of the two new batteries we bought last spring – free under warranty. And we had to endure the unstopping of a clogged black water tank. But, with our fingers crossed, we are settling in for a nice quiet relaxing winter in the Arizona southwest.
May 23, 2017 § Leave a comment
Standing outside on a clear day around lunch time recently, the peace was interrupted by screams and a flapping that resembled a jet engine. At a camp site a little way away there was a small tornado tearing apart the ongoing lunch preparations for a group and trying to destroy their canopy. The dust rising in the swirling column of air included lunch debris and looked like smoke.
Screams started coming ftom the next campsite in the dust devil’s path. But just as it a arrived there, it rose high enough to spare them.
In touring the area later, it was obvious that the dust devil had destroyed a tent in a campsite before arriving at the luncheon group.
This episode reminded us of a time some years ago when we were camped at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. We had strapped our awning to the picnic table in case of wind even though it was a peaceful calm day. Sometime in the afternoon while we were sitting in the trailer reading, we were shaken by a gust of wind and we could see the picnic table through the window rise off the ground almost as high as the top of the trailer. Almost immediately afterward, everything was back to normal as if nothing had happened. Although we were still breathing hard.
We’ve seen dust devils in fields many times and they seem so peaceful but they can pack a punch.
May 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
We woke up this morning to a rare occurrence in May in the Sevier Desert south of Salt Lake City Utah – snow.
We are thinking this is a pretty nice place to be right now with our asphalt parking space surrounded by trees with Internet, phone, television, and an annual pass to the recreation area making the rest of our stay free up to a year from now!
May 10, 2017 § 1 Comment
We are in one of the four campgrounds in the Little Sahara White Sand Dunes Recreation Area in Utah’s Sevier Desert which also boasts the Bonneville Salt Flats east of Salt Lake City. The Little Sahara, located south of Salt Lake City, is a popular off road vehicle playground on the sand dunes mostly on weekends. The land is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The first site we were in was a little too close to the action.
It was great for people watching over the weekend. There were many different types of vehicle, ages of riders, and sexes. Some of the little ones could hardly reach the floor but they hung on to the hand grips and away they went.
We moved to an interior site that is out of the main traffic pattern before the next wave starts coming in on Thursday and Friday.
The snow melt floods will recede and campgrounds will begin to open this Sunday so we will be heading to National Forest campgrounds then as we gradually head north.
In the meantime, we are enjoying a peaceful wait in a nice desert campgound.
April 15, 2017 § 2 Comments
The on again off again working of the furnace finally came to a head at a service center in Quartzsite AZ where it was determined that the burner was worn-out and needed to be replaced. Luckily, we had moved from Prescott back to the desert at Quartzsite where the weather was warmer because it took over two weeks for the new burner to get here for installation. It is now finally fixed and we are anxious to leave the desert heat again for the twenty degrees cooler temps in the Prescott National Forest.
Some of the local shrubs are putting on a show here such as this pleasant parking spot at the Dollar General store.
March 23, 2017 § 2 Comments
March 18, 2017 § Leave a comment
We left the Sonoran Desert south of Quartzsite AZ last monday for a higher and cooler camp. The first night at the Forest Service White Spar campground near Prescott AZ, our furnace decided not to work. We have an appointment to get it fixed next week. So we are now in cooler nights without heat. Cosying under the covers works very well except for the occasional potty run. In the mornings, the percolating coffee pot helps heat the trailer but lighting the second burner on the stove works even better. To circulate the air better we aim a fan at the ceiling. This eats up the oxygen in the trailer but we are able to monitor that with our oxygen meter and freshen the air when needed.
We bought a Little Buddy propane heater last year for times when we didn’t want to run the furnace. It worked for a while then decided it didn’t want to light anymore. It would light sometimes but was way too much work for the times it did work. When the furnace broke this week, we got the Little Buddy out of storage. Low and behold it lit and we set it on the floor between the bathroom door and the entrance door. This location allows the heat to get to the dinette area best.
It soon began to emit fumes rising from the catalytic burner. We figured they were propane and wondered what to do. There was no way I wanted to lean over the heater to turn it off. That problem was solved when the accumulated fumes blew up. That left low flames at the heater burner so I quickly picked it up and took it outside. Picking it up activated the tip over protection switch which shut down everything and I just sat it down outside and left it.
There was no damage this time but there will not be a next time.
We’ve been able to get enough sun in this pine forest for the solar panels to charge the batteries. It’s nice to not have to use the generator.
The forest service rebuilt the camp sites here a couple years ago and the are very nice.
It will be a lot nicer when our funace is fixed.
March 11, 2017 § Leave a comment
We were going to baby the old batteries along until we just had to replace them but we ran across two batteries that had just been delivered. With the date stickers indicating the current month, we were pretty sure that the batteries were fresh so we pulled the trigger and bought them.
The first change we observed was the internal resistance of the batteries. The old batteries would drop about 0.23 volts when the television and a light turned on. The new batteries drop about 0.05 volts.
Most advice is to break new batteries in slowly by not discharging too deeply. We’re probably doing well with that since we have yet to discharge beyond 12.53 volts which is equivalent to about 91 or 92 percent state of charge.
Our battery monitor is showing that we are drawing as much as 24 amp hours to arrive at that state of charge which is much more than the 8% or so reduction in charge which would be something like 15 amp hours. We think this is because the sun is setting later and there is some fading as well as surface charge involved. All charging of the new batteries so far has been with the solar panels. The extra amp hours do vary some from day to day so it’s hard to pinpoint any cause and effect for this phenomenon. The results are welcome though.
The added capacity of the new batteries will come in handy when we hit the road later this month.
February 19, 2017 § 2 Comments
At first glance, batteries are a terrible investment. It seems that everything you do with a battery shortens it’s life.
When we purchased our trailer, we were not instructed on proper care and use of the lone twelve volt battery that resides in a special vented compartment in the rear of our Casita travel trailer. When the battery didn’t have enough energy left to light the lights, we knew we had to charge the battery. After a while that didn’t work so well and we would get a new battery. If that was within the one year warranty, we received a replacement battery without paying for it. If not, we paid for it. We figured it was just a cost of using our home away from home.
After a few years, it sunk in that there might be a better way. Many RVers use the 50 percent rule meaning that they try to never let the batteries fall below 50 percent of the capacity before recharging. This rule is intended to extend the battery life. We used that for a while but as we learned more about batteries, and studied the life cycle charts, we decided that limiting the battery discharge cycles to 20 percent as a goal extended the probable battery life much more. Especially so for the readily available and cheaper ‘marine’ batteries we are using. So we now aim to limit the discharge to no more than twenty percent of the total capacity leaving eighty percent state of charge. Since our single battery is rated at about 91 amp hours, that limits our use to around 18 amp hours between charges. We enjoy watching television in the evening so we are liable to need to run the generator some in the evening especially in the winter with longer night times and maybe some furnace use. To eliminate the use of the generator in the evening, we added a second battery. It won’t fit in the trailer so it resides in the van and connects to a plug-in that then connects the two batteries in parallel doubling the available amp hours to 182. This allows us to drain around 36 amp hours before needing to recharge. This is plenty for us on a daily basis.
But wait – batteries don’t keep their original capacity. They gradually lose capacity. We are now operating with a capacity estimated to be around seventy amp hours with both batteries. That means we can use something like 14 ah between charges to stay with our twenty percent usage goal. But these batteries are old and slated to be replaced so we’ve temporarily abandoned that goal until we have new batteries. Our new goal for now is fifty percent which is around 35 ah.
Recharging the amp hours we use still has to take place. We do that with our generator or our solar panels if there is sun.
We have two 100 watt solar panels that we move around to wherever the sun is shining. It’s not unusual for the panels to produce over eight amps to the batteries after the controller throttles the power down to a safe level.
The solar controller is located in the trailer above the batteries and was indicating a 16.3 volt current coming to the controller from the solar panels when this picture was taken. The current from the panels is often over twenty volts.
The battery monitor however is showing that the controller has limited the voltage to 14.16 volts to the batteries. We would prefer the voltage limit to the battery to be 14.4 but that is a subject for another essay.
All this has allowed us to live off the grid here in the Sonoran Desert very comfortably for over four months so far this winter and we shouldn’t have to replace our batteries as often. We are hoping the new batteries last at least five years. We’ll see!