Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WELL – it sure feels like winter around here, unlike most states east of AZ.  However, I actually expected, or at least wasn’t going to be surprised by, the cooler than average temps this year because of El Nino. I’ve also been told that December is always the coldest month around here, so I’m totally glad to have the little generator to supplement that solar power. And regardless, I’d still rather be in the Sonoran Desert of western AZ this month (in fact, all winter) than anywhere else in the US.

I made the 45 minute drive north to Walmart in Parker a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure not going to Wal-Mart as often as WE used to. I rather enjoyed the drive too, wouldn’t have enjoyed just riding tho. Not too much new or exciting in Parker this year. Since I don’t cook much, I didn’t have a lot of items to get. But I have been on a binge of eating the oriental slaw that’s pretty easy to fix, keep, & eat while boondocking.

I’ve learned some more new things this past week too. A month or so ago, a fellow camper suggested opening both propane tanks sitting on the trailer tongue so it would automatically switch tanks if needed in the middle of a cold night instead of getting up, dressed, & going outside to do it by flashlight. I also discovered & have learned to see how much propane is in the current tank by the little black knobby thing located above the pointer showing which tank is currently being used. Who knew? Until it shows red, there’s still propane in the tank. Instead of leaving that 2nd tank open tho, I’d rather just check it more often & open the 2nd tank when the 1st tank is getting near empty so I know to refill the 1st tank the next day. The only problem tho is YOU NEED TO CHECK THE TANK REGULARLY (I’m still developing that habit.)

So Sunday morning before last, about 6:30am, I woke up to 52° inside the trailer rather than the normal low 60’s. It was not just cold (I have more layers of clothes to put on), but, but, I COULDN’T HEAT WATER TO MAKE COFFEE! OMG, the world as I know it is about to end. My 3rd propane tank running the little Westinghouse 2000 generator for a few hours expired the night before, so at least that wasn’t a surprise. And at 7am on a Sunday morning, not many propane distributors are open so all I could do was drive over to Love’s Truck Stop in the dark. Quartzsite supposedly is having a propane price war, but apparently Love’s didn’t get that memo. $2.49/gal. At least I got some coffee there too.

Unfortunately, even with 180W of solar panels & two 12v AGM batteries, I can’t seem to have enough power to run the TV, DirecTv DVR, & satellite controller for as many hours as I want on any given night (plus charging cell fon & e-cigarette batteries). Yeah, I know. I’m addicted, but I’ve read nearly a dozen books in the past two weeks also. So, I’ve been running the generator at night to keep the batteries up while watching TV, but something’s still just not right cause the 140W inverter running the TV setup wakes me up squealing in the middle of the night from low batteries sometimes (the furnace fan uses some of that battery juice).

I’ve talked with several fellow campers about my problems & finally visited one of the solar businesses in town to get their suggestions also. Everyone said the same thing – I’m just using more power from those batteries than I’m putting in. Poop! However, assuming the batteries are still good (they’re supposed to be) & that the AZ sun is shining full during the day, it’s just a slow haul to get the batteries fully charged during the day if they weren’t full from the night before. (Did you hear that ah-ha moment?) So I’ve started running the generator for a few hours in the morning now to get those batteries fully charged (that’s at least 12.6v, I think.) so that the solar (think trickle charge) then KEEPS them fully charged during the day even if I watch a little TV (for news & weather) during daylight. After five mornings of this new procedure, it’s really made a big difference. However, cold nights compress propane to a near-non-flowing state & the first morning, after at least 12 attempts to get the generator hand-cranked, I finally heated some water on the stove & poured over the tank. That worked finally. Then I moved the tank so it can warm up in the first rays of sunlight each morning, so the 2nd morning’s generator start only took a few pulls & continued running from the first start. That night wasn’t nearly as cold either tho. Anyway, hopefully changing MY habits is all this system needs instead of more equipment & $$.

Remember my goals of quitting smoking & getting more muscle tone? The non-smoking is doing fine & I must be ‘toning’ something cause all this lifting of propane tanks, moving solar panels, & pulling on the generator isn’t making me sore the next morning. And I think my little effort to do some regular exercises is also helping with the ability to stand up from a squat without hanging onto something. Since I heat one mug’s worth of water at a time in the tea kettle on the propane stove & then pour it thru the coffee grounds of this little 1-cup strainer contraption sitting on my mug, I’ve been using that waiting time to do some modified squats, either alone or using elastic bands. It’s still hard to be happy about getting old & creaky even when remembering the ones who didn’t get their next birthday.

I visited the local library & applied for their 1-year non-resident library card, then accessed their free wifi to upgrade a gazillion apps on my fon. I treated myself to a Hawaiian pizza at Silly Al’s, possibly the only pizza place in town, & the only one I knew of. It was pretty good.

While driving home one day, I noticed another Casita parked in one of the many RV parks around town. Whipped my truck into the driveway & pulled up in front of Micky of Wandering Spirit blog, a fellow female solo Casita owner. Had a great but short visit & agreed to meet for lunch in a couple of days.  Unfortunately, she has to be in Tucson for Christmas, & she isn’t coming back to Quartzsite until after the first of the year. Oh wait, how’d that happen? 2016 was in TWO weeks from our lunch! Anyway, we had a long, chatty lunch before she left the next day.

I decided to visit Blythe CA for a few groceries last week since it’s much closer than Parker. I wasn’t impressed by Albertson’s so I’ll try a different store if/when I return. And the I-10 traffic was just CA crazy. While in the neighborhood, I also decided to stop in to visit Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living blog camped south on Blythe on AZ BLM land. He lives in a van & boondocks most of the time. I’ve learned some good things from reading his blog over the years. Had a good visit, & I may try to visit his Rubber Tramp Rendezvous held east of Quartzsite in January.

So it doesn’t rain often around here (at least not in the winter), but there are horribly windy days that blow dust everywhere. I tried to run the windshield washer to clean off the dust – & no water came out. Found out the little hose jumped out of it’s plastic holder & got cut in two when the hood closed on it. Picked up a replacement hose in Blythe & finally got Bruce (a nearby camper) to help install it. The worst part was getting the bolts out of the fluid container down in a small space. Now I can clean the windshield again.

Last weekend was an experiment of sorts. I’m not anxious to hook up the trailer to dump the tanks & fill up with water (it’s 3 miles away), so I dug out the macerator pump & drained the tanks into the gray boy sitting in the back of the pickup. After some difficult & wrong connections, it DID work. After dumping the gray boy, I put water in the 45 gal bladder that lives on the pickup cab. I didn’t want to overfill it & have extra water sloshing around when driving, so I only ended up with 3/4 of a tank of fresh water. That worked too. . .but it all took me a couple of hours to complete. Next time will go quicker tho since I hope I learned how to do it all, plus I like to make new mistakes all the time.

I’ve been parked here at the La Posa West long-term visitor’s area since 12/2 & am amazed at how contented I feel here. I just don’t seem to have quite the itchy feet I did when Jeff was alive. I’ve had fun investigating the town & the growing number of vendors in the RV tent area. Plus I’m close enough to just walk to the big RV show next month from camp instead of trying to herd the pickup into a tight parking spot & still walking a distance just to get to the show. There’s not anything in particular I’m looking for at the show, but seems there’s always something to buy that I didn’t know I wanted/needed.

I do want to visit with the Harvest Hosts folks tho at the Show since I’m thinking I might find a farm, winery, or agri-business location in CO or northern NM where I could volunteer (or even work for pay) enough to have a long-term campsite for most of the summer. Having worked at four different campgrounds during the first two years of full-timing, I loved talking to all the campers but definitely don’t like standing for hours at the front desk of a camp office nor dealing with even one cranky camper. My working years revolved around a chair at a desk with a computer & a phone. But, I grew up on a farm & might find a temporary home somewhere by at least asking questions.

I’m not sure how I feel about this first Christmas without Jeff. We’ve never done much of anything special to celebrate, but sometimes I hear a Christmas song that reminds me of a particular time. Those long-gone days of past family get-togethers with parents & brother, grandparents, aunts & uncles, & cousins, memorable Christmas days (like hiking in the rain forests of Oahu while stationed on a base right at the edge of it), & getting stuck in bad weather have the ability to make me sad even if Jeff was still with me, so it will probably just end up as an ignore it day, reading a book. I’ve been invited to my cousin’s house in Phoenix for the day but don’t think I want to make the drive to & from in a day, a day with lots of traffic too, & definitely not pulling the trailer there for one night. And no, I don’t want to sleep in a strange bed for even one night. Besides, there’s cell fons & email to stay connected thru now. Don’t know what the few camper friends nearby will be doing either.

Had to get propane again, but at least it’s down to $1.99/gal now. Wish gas prices would come down too, but I’m not doing much driving really. Between watching TV & reading, I keep thinking I need to find a hobby of some sort. But then what would I do with whatever I make, & where would I store the supplies for that hobby? Plus, I’ve never wanted to turn a ‘hobby’ into a ‘money making’ experience because it takes the FUN out of it. My two natural talents (those activities you do because you enjoy them & they’re not difficult, or maybe they’re easy because you enjoy them??) are English & computers/smart fons. I’ve debated on turning my reading enjoyment into a proofreading endeavor for a little extra spending money since I spot typos without ever trying. I know the people who write & self-publish books don’t usually have a lot of money to spend on proofing, so I’d almost do it for free just to have the books to read. But then I worry about deadlines & schedules. This retirement thing is all about low stress, ya know? Maybe I’m just not motivated. Oh well. . .

Although we’ve had some cloudy days, the sunsets usually develop lots of color. They usually look like this.

I’m wanting to go see the new Star Wars movie somewhere. Yes, I saw the first one in 1979 while stationed in Guam. We even have the full 6-CD set of Star Wars! Havasu City is the closest & I don’t even remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater. A new adventure!!

Hope EVERYONE reading this has a pleasant, peaceful Christmas. And I can never thank my family & friends enough for their support in the past few months. I’m not sure if I’m over the hump of grieving, but I’ve tried to stay optimistic & open to new adventures. Life continues to be a learning experience.
~~ Forever GRATEFUL ~~


  1. Your propane experience made me smile. I'd much rather get up and swap tanks in the dark, than get up to NO propane, and have to go looking for some like you. Sounds like you are getting things more together each week. See you in a few weeks, hopefully...jc

  2. You are doing good, doesn't take long to learn from boo boo's. And yes go see Star Wars first chance you can. I saw it today and felt like the 35-yr old kid I was almost 40 years ago!

  3. Great update. Feel like we just had a chat. Glad it's getting a bit warmer.
    We just saw the Star Wars movie yesterday and loved it! It was my first 3D experience!
    Good info about the library card.

  4. Glenda, I think you're doing just fine and admire your spirit. Hope you have a peaceful and beautiful Christmas!

  5. HI Glenda, I am glad to hear that you are doing better everyday. Love reading your blog. Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!

  6. I'm really enjoying your blog. Would love to hear what you are reading!
    Have a happy holiday!

  7. I so admire what you are doing. And root for you every step of the way.

  8. Hello from Kansas City! Sounds like you are doing what you enjoy! So enjoyed reading of your adventures...and proud of you for getting out there. GO GIRL!!! Wish we were out there with you, but at least you keep us in touch by your blog. Thanks so much and God bless.


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