Thursday, May 31, 2012

RV: One Bad Trip. Charging Batteries. Wind Turbine. Solar System. Solar Lights. Water Bladder. Battery Water Pump. Wash Veggies. Big Ben. Cold War Ends. Eyes Dilated.

For “tRaVersing, or RV Day"”:

More Tips for Boondocking  (without hook-ups)

Does a bad boondocking trip kill the concept for new RVers?

boondocking_colorado“In last week’s post,  A boondocker’s bag of tricks, among the many responses was one that got me thinking about how RVers view boondocking–especially those that don’t.

Many first time boondockers, such as Bobbie, also don’t realize what changes or additions to their rig would make their boondocking trips more pleasurable, no matter what one’s pleasures might be.  Take heat for instance. Bobbie mentions using two 1-pound canisters of propane per day. Does she realize that her forced air furnace uses a lot more? Dedicated boondockers have learned to install a catalytic heater that requires no electrical power that drains the batteries (like a forced air furnace) and that they can plumb into their main propane system, rather than use expensive 1-pound bottles.

And how about those long hot showers. That could be remedied by carrying extra Jerry jugs of water or a water bladder, as well as by practicing water conservation (such as Navy showers). An abundance of electricity would be possible by installing solar panels, and wifi with a satellite internet system.

None of the disappointments, or grievances, with her boondocking trip were insurmountable from a technical standpoint. Not that boondocking requires all those goodies, it just makes it more comfortable and therefore enjoyable. Most boondockers do not boondock just to save campground fees, though that is an important perk, but rather to camp out in nature, no crowded campgrounds, peace and quiet, solitude, more freedom to camp where you choose–not just where someone built a campground or RV resort–and all the other wonderful pleasures that go with “true” boondocking.

What if Bobbie’s first boondocking experience, rather than turning into a complete turnoff, would have become a window to a whole new world of RVing, another enjoyable way to use her rig with a freedom not possible when requiring hookups to camp. I wonder if Bobbie, and all the other RVers that had a bummer experience on their first boondocking trips, had had a better experience, maybe they would have found the enjoyment that we veteran, dedicated boondockers do.”

Complete article at:


Boondocking tips with Bob Difley

"Charging your batteries with your generator is an annoying process -- especially to your neighbors -- that takes hours of continuous running. And charging them by having your engine idling, though the military consistently does it, will use a lot of fuel and wear out your engine -- and you probably don't have a pentagon sized budget to simply replace things when they wear out. If you plan on doing a lot of boondocking, invest in solar panels or a wind generator -- and install an extra battery too."


I have mentioned this before, but felt it needed to be under boondocking, too.

Generate electricity with a wind turbine

“The Rover Series Wind Turbine Kits are rated for 300 Watts, perfect for mobile power applications.
Compare the Rover to similar offerings, including the Air-X or Sunforce wind turbines. Don't believe outrageous power rating claims.
Rover is great for charging battery banks. We designed the Rover to be compact and easy to deploy. Consider it for both traditional applications as well as use on-the-go with your RV!
Rover Wind Turbine is easy to maintain and built for durability. It's perfect for supplementing your power needs, charging batteries if you're a casual camper that settles in spots for a few days at a time.
Ideal for conserving on gasoline consumption in more remote locations to power lights and appliances! This is a 100% complete wind turbine kit! Mounts directly to 1.5 inch schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe. Buy with confidence! Comes with our 2-year warranty on parts and labor.
Technical Details

  • Compare it to the Air-X or Sunforce!
  • 300 Watts of REAL power at REALISTIC wind speeds
  • 100% steel construction, including mounting frame, tail, and fasteners!
  • Oversized self-lubricating yaw bushing for effortless tracking in the wind!
  • Mounts directly to 1.5 inch schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe!

I found it at Amazon for $499."     More at:


Do you really want a Harbor Freight Solar system?“You've probably seen their ad: 45 watt solar power system, includes panels, wiring, mounts, and regulator, hurry in for less than $200. Seems like quite a deal, especially if you're trying to break into solar on the cheap. And it may be a "deal," depending on your needs. But let's penetrate a bit below the surface and see if this--or an alternative--will work for you.

First a word about 45 watts of solar output.

On a clear summer day, this output translates to about 45 amp-hours of usable power. Knowing how much power you use is the key to knowing if such a system is "big enough." Here's an example: An RVing couple who boondocks on the desert in winter says they use the following electrical "stuff":
Incandescent bulbs, 2, 3 hours a day, a total of 12 amp-hours
Fluorescent lamp, 1, 5 hours a day, a total of 5 amp-hours
A 9" color tv, 2 hours a day, a total of 6 amp-hours
A small furnace, 1 hour a day, a total of 8 amp-hours
And miscellaneous items like a water pump, a total of 2 amp-hours.

Sum it all up, their electrical power "budget" works out to 33 amp-hours per day. The Harbor Freight system would be "big enough" provided each day is clear and they point the panels to the south.
But what about your use? With the ubiquitous laptop computer, associated printer, chargers for cell phones, and all the other useful technology, power consumption is often much higher than our conservative example couple. If you need to go "bigger" than you'll need to add solar panels. But here's the hang: The solar controller included in the Harbor Freight system is already close to "maxed out," meaning, hang more panels on the system and you'll soon blow a fuse.
A quick "shopping trip" on eBay leads to some interesting finds. An outfit regularly retails 145 watt solar panels, and sells them for $287 (free shipping). Another seller offering 20 amp solar controllers (room for expansion here) for $64. Throw in another $40 to purchase a mounting system, add a few dollars for wiring, and you can have a system with three times the power for about twice the price. And the system is "expandable," in that if you need more power, the controller is big enough to allow considerable expansion in the number of solar panels.

Another thing to consider about the HF system: The footprint. The 45-watt system is based on three solar panels of 15-watts each. Each panel is 12" x 36" meaning you'll need 9 square feet of roof area to develop 45 watts. Compare this to the 26" x 58" single panel--a single more square foot for three times the power.
If money is tight, if you're really a low power user, the Harbor Freight System may be just the thing you need. But if you'll be needing more power, shop around.”    From:


Solar Lights:

"I have a friend who used her solar lights inside at night when her current was off during the hurricane.  She stuck them in a jar or bottle and said they gave off plenty of 'free light'.  She put one in each room and would put them back outside in the daytime and bring them in at night as long as the current was off.  They are safe to use and cheaper than batteries.  Bring in a solar light one night and test it.
Due to a thunderstorm, we lost power for about 5 hours.  We were scrambling around in the darkness, looking for matches, candles, flashlights, etc.  We looked outside, and noticed our solar lights shining brightly all around our patio, stairs, dock, etc.  They were beautiful.  My wife walked outside, and brought several of the solar lights inside.
We stuck the solar light pipes into plastic drink bottles containers and they made the nicest, brightest, safest, lighting you could ever imagine.
We put one in the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, etc.  There was plenty of light.  There are all types of solar lights available.  We bought ours at Harbor Freight.  We put them all around our yard.  They look nice and they do not attract flying bugs like the outdoor lights around our doorway.
The lights we have fit into the small (20 oz) water bottles and they also fit into most of the larger liter bottles.  If you need a weight in the plastic bottle to keep them from tipping over, you can put a few of the pretty colorful "flat marbles" that they put in aquariums, and vases.  (you can also use sand, aquarium gravel, etc., whatever you have available).
The lights we have were perfect inside our home.  They burn all night long if you need them.
The next day, you just take your solar lights back outside and they will instantly recharge and be ready for you to use again any time you need them.
Perfect for power outages, hurricanes, etc."


New Wrinkle On Water Bladders

“Toting water back to camp in a barrel has the drawback of pumping the liquid refresher into the RV tank. Water bladders lay on the top of your toad vehicle roof, and expand to hold the precious resource. Back at camp, gravity does the job of transferring the water from the bladder to the tank. Quick and easy. However, the price for water bladders is pretty steep. One RVer in Quartzsite went to Walmart and purchased an air bed, suitably sized to match his toad car roof. He put a hose shutoff valve fitted to an appropriate sized plastic tube to mate up with the "air" inlet on the mattress. The man swears that by first using bleach and water rinse, then a couple of salvos of soda and water, the "plastic" taste of the mattress is fairly well cleared. If you decide to try this, bear in mind that air mattresses and air beds are not specifically designed to haul potable water. There is always the possibility that chemicals used in the manufacturing process may not be agreeable with human physiology.” By Russ and Tina De Maris


Add a portable, battery-powered water pump to your boondocking arsenal

“Boondockers know that being efficient with waste water, electricity and fresh water make a big difference in how long they can camp without having to dump waste tanks, charge batteries, and replenish their water supply. One piece of equipment that they can add to their rig's arsenal is a portable water pump, which can save them effort, time and hassle.” Read more. From:


Wash your veggies
“One of the perks of RVing is being able to shop local farmers' markets and roadside stands, and to sample fresh local produce that may be different than our regular fare. But remember, always wash the produce before eating or cooking it to clean off soil from the farm and to eliminate potential germs from farm workers and handlers. To keep from wasting your limited fresh water, wash the fruit or produce in a bowl of water instead of under a running faucet. Then use the water to flush your toilet or water your plants. “

From Me: Add some vinegar to the wash water, to sanitize the veggies.


On This Day:

Big Ben goes into operation in London, May 31, 1859:

“The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen's Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster--the headquarters of the British Parliament--in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

Denison's design, built by the company E.J. Dent & Co., was completed in 1854; five years later, St. Stephen's Tower itself was finished. Weighing in at more than 13 tons, its massive bell was dragged to the tower through the streets of London by a team of 16 horses, to the cheers of onlookers. Once it was installed, Big Ben struck its first chimes on May 31, 1859. Just two months later, however, the heavy striker designed by Denison cracked the bell. Three more years passed before a lighter hammer was added and the clock went into service again. The bell was rotated so that the hammer would strike another surface, but the crack was never repaired.

The name "Big Ben" originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen's Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock's huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.”


Three U.S. presidents close chapters on the Cold War, May 31, 1988:

“On this day in history, three U.S. presidents in three different years take significant steps toward ending the Cold War.

Beginning on May 28, 1988, President Ronald Reagan met Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev for a four-day summit in Russia. Upon his election in 1980, Reagan had abandoned Nixon, Ford and Carter's attempts to diffuse political tensions between the two superpowers and instead instigated an enormous build-up of arms and rhetoric against the Soviet Union. The Soviets could not keep up with the U.S.'s massive defense spending and this, along with Gorbachev's policy of granting increasing freedom to Soviet citizens (glasnost), helped to erode hard-line communism within Russia. In a remarkable and symbolic address to a group of Moscow University students on May 31, Reagan stood in front of an enormous bust of Lenin and spoke openly about freedom, technology, creativity and his desire to see the Berlin Wall torn down. He told the students your generation is living in one of the most exciting, hopeful times in Soviet history when the first breath of freedom stirs the air and the heart beats to the accelerated rhythm of hope, when the accumulated spiritual energies of a long silence yearn to break free.

Two years to the day after Reagan's 1988 visit, and just about a year after the 1989 demolition of the Berlin Wall, Reagan's successor George H. W. Bush met with Gorbachev in the United States to discuss the reunification of East and West Germany. Bush and Gorbachev outlined a plan that would unite the separate communist and democratic spheres into one nation not seen since World War II. In 1991, after an aborted communist coup against Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin became president and the Soviet Union was officially declared over, dismantled and re-named Russia. Most of the former Soviet satellite territories were granted their independence. Russia then initiated tentative steps toward a capitalist economic system.

On this day in 1994, President Bill Clinton pledged continued cooperation with Russia in a New World Order, declaring that the U.S. would no longer point nuclear missiles at Russia, ending the antagonism and fear of mutually assured destruction that characterized the half-century-long Cold War between the two superpowers.”



Misty and I drove down to Jay’s to pick him up for our eye doctor’s appointments.  As usual, he wasn’t ready, but I had allowed for that. He seemed to have got it in his head that this was a walk-in type of test, even though I had told him otherwise.

Fortunately, we hadn’t considered this a real shopping day, as our sight was extremely hampered by our dilated eyes afterwards.  The bright sun was a killer, even with sunglasses on.  I had to grab a cart to steady myself to walk into Home Depot next door.   We picked out some nice brass hardware for latching the bed base and dinette table in the cargo trailer, for when it is in toyhaul mode. 

As we were leaving Kroger’s, the sun was still getting to us, but Jay spotted an abandoned overturned cooler on the side of the parking lot.  He swooped it up, and the unopened beer cans laying around it.   Either it fell off a truck, or someone was arrested for Public Intoxication and had to leave it there. He was tickled pink, as he doesn’t get his SS check until today.


Dizzy-Dick said...

Hard to do anything with dilated eyes. So it was a surprise that Jay found his treasure. I guess the saying is true. "even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then." (grin).

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

LOL on Jay's treasure!

Thanks for the hint on washing veggies in a bowl and using for the flushing. Good tip!

All the other boondocking ones we already use ... grin grin!

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard