Monday, January 31, 2011


Thats all I have to say today :-)

I am busy plotting my trip up north in April. I will have nearly a month to "kill" and my winter, so far, has not been as lucrative as expected.

I am doing OK, but I won't be able to tour and sightsee as I normally would, and my stays in places will be longer and limited to forest service or other gubmint run parks where I can utilize my "Golden Gimp" passport.

The discount cards USED to be called "Golden Age" and "Golden Access" passes. The card is now actually called an "Inter Agency Pass" .. a small reward for being permanently disabled, at least, in the gubmints eyes, for losing a vital body part from my cancer. I can't say that going thru lung cancer is a preferred method for getting a token discount for camping, but, hey.. I'll take it where I can get it.

The card is available to all US citizens deemed to have a permanent disability. It gives you a 50% discount on all camping fees in Forest Service, Corp of Engineer or BLM campgrounds. It also gets you into National Parks for free, but since I never camp in them, it isn't a concern for me at this point.

I can average around 7 bucks a day for lodging when I travel. This, and my ability to live off grid comfortably, has saved my bacon more than once.

The card is NOT recognized by any Non Federal parks, such as State or County facilities, not is it recognized in "some" federal areas.. such as the Long Term visitors area I am currently in. At 180 bones for 7 months, I can't really think of WHY anyone would complain about that, but, as an experienced host for these agencies..I am sure some do. I bet they drive 1/2 million dollars diesel pushers too :-)

Anyway, I am thinking of traveling up I-15 from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Now.. THERES two polar opposite towns, eh?) and then taking I-84 all the way to Portland, my home town.

I don't have much to worry about in Lost Wages. I have never been a gambler or big drinker. I can plop 20 bucks into a barside poker machine and make it and one free beer last all night. Woo Hoo!

I do fear, however, that I will drop tons on raw coffee.. I am going through Utah, ya know, and I don't want to get stuck without.

This route was chosen because if I see another inch of I-5, the 99 or the 101.. I think I will puke. Highway 395 is indeed a great trip, but I have been there, done that too. Time to get brave and travel where I haven't before.. even if its just for the journey and not the destination.

Of course.. there will be dissapointments along the way, like the big signs that say "Area 51 is NOT here" and at some point, I will have to go through


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New places to go to

I have received my summer assignment! I am looking forward to a new northern experience in the North Cascades of Washington.

I will be posted at Baker Lake, Swift Creek Campground from May though September.

This will be the most isolated I have been in my work travels. It is 20 miles from Concrete Washington, east of Mount Vernon in the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

I will be about 35 miles from the Canadian border, but have no clue how close the nearest crossing is. I suspect Blaine.. a place I have crossed and been cross examined at many times.

The nearest "Big Cities" are Seattle, and Vancouver B.C. Hmnnn.. thats a tough one. Seattle would be easier.. but Vancouver is Oh-So-Nice.

The company I work for makes this a REAL job, not just lounging around a campground waiting for campers to come give you money. The compensation is wonderful, the treatment is outstanding, and 2 days off mid week make it almost like a 5 month vacation.

My Verizon maps show me on a fringe for Data coverage. I may have to invest in a booster.. cause I sure am not expecting that the wifi they speak of will be done by the time I get there.

I can live without TV.. heaven forbid you yank my internet away! EEEYYYYEEEE!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Speaking of Cats...

I have one. And two dogs. "ACK! In a 15 foot trailer?" you say.. sometimes, I do too.

My Children

I started this lifestyle with THREE dogs and a cat. They were part of my stay put life and were already around. I was raised with cats, and always had a dog in my adult life. I was taught that once you took on the responsibility of an animal, that responsibility did not end until the animals passing, or if the circumstance was so extreme that the animal would be better off to be rehomed.

One does not rehome an animal because it becomes inconvenient for you. I have altered my doings with them as a first consideration. Altho the dogs seem to enjoy this galavanting around the country, it does not pass by me just how much they have lost. They used to have a house, a doggy door and a big yard to play in as they chose. Now they have about 70 square feet of play room and are dependent on me to open doors so they can go outside. I am up and down all the time I am home, but I don't mind. They are good sports and would rather just be where I am than to have gone to strangers.

Even in the big motorhome, which I bought specifically so they would have more room (OK, and me too) they have always "stuck" to me.. sitting where ever I am and following me where ever I go. Either they don't care, or they are the worlds best sports.

The cat has had to adjust to being an indoor cat only. Letting him out would mean certain death for him, especially in the desert with opportunistic coyotes. I have had to make him his own "room" where he can go to "go" and to get away from the sometimes rambunctious play between the dogs and to hide from strange people.

The dogs have a schedule, and are walked daily on my lunch time. I come home every day JUST to attend to them, let them out and exercise them. They are inside the trailer when I am gone.. they need to get out more.

They actually have a more stimulating life now, as I have to walk them and take them with me everywhere. Before, they had the big yard etc, but I rarely walked them, or took them "bye bye".

The 3rd dog I had was very old when we hit the road, and she did not adjust well. Her health declined quickly and she passed of a massive stroke at age 17.

BTW, a 17 year old beagle is NOT common. She lived a very long and happy life, even her last year.

Animals are a responsibility, and no, I will not acquire more.. that would be VERY irresponsible. But for now, these will be taken care of to the best of my ability and hopefully, they will live long happy lives as well.

Sparking the Age of Edison

The desert is abuzz tonite. It has been for about a week now. Not with desert bugs and critters...

The endless and increasing decibel levels of generators are driving me mad. When I first came here, the early birds (Myself included) had already settled into the routine, and the spaces between camps were vast. Fulltimers have learned how to adapt to no hook ups, and almost all the "serious" ones have alternative methods for staying lit and warm.

With it being "Show Time"here in Quartzsite, the desert has filled with rv'ing groups and clubs, and hundreds of individuals in big giant buildings on wheels. Temporary vagabonds with huge toys. All of them, it seems, running their own fossil fuel power plants almost 24-7. I have slept near freeways that were quieter. The din is .. deafening.

One of the reasons I sold my big motorhome was that it was almost impossible to control environmentally. Everything in it consumed electrical power beyond my wildest dreams. Despite my conversions to low electrical draw items such as LED and Cold cathode lighting, catalytic heater and other tweaks.. it still wanted more power. The fridge, even when operated on propane, would consume 12v power to control the circuits that regulated the temps. The water heater had to have a ton of current for the ignitor to fire, and forget about using the forced air furnace.. the fan would kill my batteries in just a few hours of use along with all the other junk. Big rigs have big power hungry appliances and needs. I hated it.. I couldn't keep warm, I couldn't cool off and my food was always going foul because the fridge could not kick in when needed. I was living in, for all intents and purposes, a one bedroom apartment on wheels. It was no different than if it was on a foundation when it came to power. My generator too, ran daily and for long periods. I hated it.

My small rig does not consume more than I can produce. In fact, its the other way around. I learned early in life (Because at that time, there was no other choice) how to make coffee on a stove top, bake in a real oven and that you did not have to have a room as bright as a runway to function adequately.

My TV runs on 12v dc, as does my antenna. My computers are also charged via 12v dc, thru an inverter.  All of my lighting is provided by large LED fixtures that are as bright and usable as any incandescent lamps I have seen.

I am not living in the dark or cold. I have placed my lighting so that with just 2 of these fixtures on, my entire trailer is lit for all tasks and reading. It is very bright and "normal" in here.

My heat source was discussed earlier, it is 100% propane with no electrical consumption at all. My cooling source is via a 12v dc fan designed for RVs. Its large and works wonderfully up to about 100 degrees.. at less than 1 amp per hour.

I power all this junk with a single 12v group 29 deep cycle battery that is charged daily via 100 watts of solar. My usage, because of the fixtures I have chosen, and habits I have developed, does not even put a minor dent in the batteries storage capacity. I simply do not consume enough electricity to worry about it. Even in Oregon, under a canopy of tall trees, frequent cloud cover and other solar unfriendly conditions, this set up has served me well.

My type of panels and the rest of my system was selected for my living/camping style and works well in a multitude of conditions.

I do own a small generator. I do use it when I require 120v power for things like tools, or for battery charging when my panels are not hooked up.. such as when I am traveling. If I run out of propane and have none easliy available, I will use it to run fans or a small electric space heater. But, for the most part, under human comfort related items, I put on a sweater of take it off.. depending.

Remember, we did not always have a microwave (I don't even own one) or an air conditioner in every home.  Its a wonder we all survived. Its a wonder I survive.. eating my own lousy cooking.. but this has nothing to do with the method used to provide heat to the ingredients.

An added bonus to not being Alternating current dependent is.. I have a larger selection of jobs. Most camp hosts own one of these giant bulging rigs and absolutely refuse to take a gig without an electrical outlet.I have been hired on the spot TWICE because I told potential employers I do not need hook ups. I get the best living spots, and more money for living off grid. What's to lose?

I look forward to this month being over so I don't feel like there is a Paul Bunyon sized purring panther living in my yard. And so is my cat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Small World, Big Town

Sorry for the delay in posts. I was in an accident, and have been out of sorts for a week or so. No one wants to hear the details, but I will report that my last helicopter ride was more scenic and fun than this one, and that I am fully recovered from minor goes on.

One of the neat things about Workamping is that even tho your jobs are temporary, you meet great folks and often, despite what appears to be a transient relationship, I have kept in touch with every place I have worked on a social basis.

This is mostly via email, or Facebook, and in a few cases via phone and postcards.

My last campground job was a wonderful experience. It was, however, sometimes racked with turmoil related to one of the camping areas I took care of when the regular hosts had days off. THEY had to put up with living schmack dab in the middle of a campground over run by misbehaved adults with boats and beer.. a bad combo. Each week as I took over their duties, I was given a full report on the weeks bad doings and set off to have the frustrating and unpleasant experiences myself for two days. Hardly anyone paid, the noise was horrible, the garbage was even worse.. we won't talk about the messes left behind.. of all sorts.

Every once in awhile, you run into the unruly bad camper in this work, but this place.. it was the norm. I felt really bad for these folks having to actually LIVE in that mess. Their full hook ups didn't seem quite enough compensation for this hell. This place, Blue River Reservoir in the Oregon Cascades, was truly just plain evil.

Today, as I was wandering with one of my dogs around the booths of junk and rock vendors that is the big draw here in Quartzsite.. I heard someone call my name. I look over, and there was the male part of this couple! "Well.. HELLO!"

Turns out that they HAVE one of these booths here where the wife sells her paintings along with her sister, who sells ceramics etc.

We had a good long visit. It was nice to see them out of uniform and very much more relaxed than with my previous dealings with them. I am sure I will go back and visit again while I am here.

Larry and Mary Goode, Yours truly and my youngest child

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Grey hair in my Grey water

I don't know why they call it "grey" water.. its mostly a brackish brown.

This tiny house has no grey water holding tanks either. It does have a drain from the kitchen sink leading to the outside via PVC pipe and then drops down to a hose fitting. I attach a regular old garden hose to the fitting then the other end of the hose goes to a "Blue Boy".. attached in the same manner.. via hose.

It isn't as elegant as having a permanently affixed holding tank, but under most of my living situations, I would have to either move my rig to drain the tank, or drain the tank into a portable one and take it to the dump anyway. I have just, sort of, eliminated the middle part this way.

I have two blue boys, actually, as grey water will ovetake you without notice. One is in use, the other is in the wings. I swap them as needed. Dumping them is done simply enough, you take them to the blue boy dump, pour into the hole and rinse. I am small and can't lift a ton, so my tanks are 5 and 6 gallons. The 6 gallon one is set up to stand on end with a hose fitting on one, and a standard RV sewer hose fitting on the other. In the rare case I have sewer hook ups, I stand the thing on end, attach the garden hose on one end, the sewer hose on the other and the water simply passes thru the blue boy to the magic place. Gravity. Its everywhere.. and free.

Dumping this is also not gross. The blue boys have sealed caps and fittings so you can pick em up, swing them in a big circle over your head and not spill a drop. Your doctor will love you if you do this part, but I can't recommend this type of leak test.

Its just dish and shower water. Considering your hands have been immersed in it, and you entire body carried around the particles in it for a day.. not a big deal. Its already BEEN on you.

That leads me to popular question #2. Showering. Showering is the act of getting your entire body wet via some sort of flowing water, soaping up and rinsing off. I do this daily. I don't have a knob I turn that water comes out of and then drains away to an affixed tank.. no, not yet. But I DO stand under flowing water, soap up, rinse and get very clean.

Eventually, when I have the time (I have all the parts.. ain't that the story in any life) I will have a nice knob to turn, yes. It will give me both hot and cold water. For NOW, I make my own hot water.

A stainless steel teapot is my water heater for all things requiring the warm wet stuff. It still amazes me just how little is required for each task. In a Stay Put house, a traditional water heater constantly heats gallons and gallons of the stuff. All day and night long. I paid for that, even if I didn't need or actually use that much.

I can heat, to boiling, 2 quarts of hot water in the tea pot in about 4 minutes on my gas stovetop. It's my temporary version of an on demand hot water heater. Mixing with a gallon and 1/2 of room temp water creates the perfect shower temp for me and is just the right amount of water to get squeaky clean and then some.

The water is mixed in a nice container that came with my actual shower system. The system basically consists of a small submersible battery powered water pump, a hose and a shower head. There are a dozen different brands designed for temporary use while camping. Coleman, Zodi, Reliance and Northwest Territory are just a few names.. but they all are basically the same and function under the same concept. (For yet another post, the shower pump serves double duty, as it is the means for transferring water into my fresh water holding tank.)

I turn the pump on, water comes out of the shower head, pours all over my pitiful old bod and I get clean.. just like the rest of the world. And no, I ain't posting pics :-P

With no drainage system yet, I actually use a long and short Rubbermaid style tote tub to catch the water. I shower in a separate room in the trailer originally intended to be a closet, but it is HUGE and I am not sure why the manufacturer just didn't make a real bathroom there. Thats a post for another day too.. but I make it work by using a shower curtain that goes around the room and hangs into the tub. I don't make a mess and there is no water damage to the rig.

The tote tub then gets picked up and dumped into the sink and goes to the blue boy. No big deal, it isn't heavy.

I often do not use all the water I have prepped for the shower either. Getting clean can be done in just a couple minutes this way. With the low pressure system as I am using, it can take up to 5 mins to use all the water. I don't feel like I am getting a sub standard cleansing, I get completely soaked, completely rinsed and completely cleansed, head to foot..including shaving. I now realize that we as Stay Put folks don't know just how wasteful and un necessary a lot of our "necessities" are. Or just how expensive once all costs are totaled for the hardware and fuel to do this in a house.

I must admit that standing under a hot shower and just letting it run for therapeutic reasons is a pleasure, but it is not a necessity for daily use. When I am in a place that has a high pressure traditional shower available, and it is clean, I will use them for just that purpose.

And there will be no pics of THAT either.....