Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blog Update - On the road and some RV Info and funnies!

I left Twentynine Palms RV Resort yesterday and made a short 212 mile trip across the Mohave Desert in the wind - still bad weather ahead of me, so I decided since it was payday to hit the walmart here in Kingman, AZ and fuel up with cheaper non-California gas prices and sit out the wind and wait to see what is happening ahead of me in Oklahoma and Missouri and try to find a window of reasonable weather to make the trip.

No pictures ready of the trip - but got involved in a long winded conversation on FB about Boondocking (Camping in remote areas without hook-ups) and of all things toilet paper and waste tanks. So I agreed it was good knowledge to have and was asked to show my set-up for remote camping and how I conserve water and waste tank usage. So here it goes.

I am not one to live long with out some creature comforts like electricity, so one of the first things I bought after getting the RV was a generator - it sits ahead of the hitch in my truck bed and I got one big enough to power everything, including the air conditioning. I also got an electric start with a remote so I can start and shut down the generator from inside the camper - this is particularly nice on cold mornings - hit the button - electric heat comes on and the coffee maker all from the comfort of my bed...when it warms up and the coffee is done, I get up and generally shut down the generator after an hour or so - this also charges my batteries, more on that later. This generator is somewhat noisy but when I am out in a remote area the only person it bothers is me, no no issue. I can generally charge my batteries and refresh my electric freezer in about 2 hours. My RV Fridge runs on both electric and propane so when remote I switch to propane and it will run on propane for weeks. I also have a small 2 cubic foot electric freezer and it needs to chill down about every other day if I don't open it. If I am planning a long remote trip - I usually empty it and put everything for the trip in the RV Fridge and Freezer. I bought the electric for when I returned from Alaska with 50 pounds of frozen fish, would not fit in the RV Fridge. Now I use it for larger capacity and when in a campground on electric it is not an issue.

This past summer I got tired of my batteries not lasting long and made a few upgrades. First I replaced all the 12 volt lights in the camper with LED Bulbs - this is a significant savings in battery usage. I also replaced the two 12 volt deep cycle batteries with 2 6 volt golf cart batteries which last much longer than my previous batteries.

It was a challenge fitting them in the existing space but I got it done.

There are a couple things you need when camping in remote areas, electricity, both battery power and 120 volt, fresh water and waste storage. The new batteries and generator cover my electric. You have to make sure you don't leave lights on but I can easily now go 10 days on batteries alone.

For water I bought two 7 gallon water jugs at Wal-Mart in the camping section and a 12 volt electric bilge pump that slips right into the water jug - clear tubing which pumps the water from the jugs and into the RV. This way if there is a hand pump nearby or on a trip to civilization I can fill the two jugs and replenish the water storage in the RV.


This section is for Stacy, since she asked so many questions!

Most RV's are fitted with two waste storage tanks - a grey tank and a black tank. The grey tank stores "grey water", water from the sinks and shower - generally clean water or soapy water. But basically pretty harmless, I am very careful to not allow food scraps to go down my kitchen sink drain. My shower in the RV is now a closet so I shower in the RV Parks I frequent or when remote use an outside shower I installed so no worry about filling up the grey tank with shower water. If I am out in the middle of nowhere I generally dig a hole and empty my grey tank in the field so to speak. Mine is fairly small about 15 gallons.


The black tank is a whole different story and really needs to be taken care of properly. Usually when I am in a campground long term I leave the grey tank open to drain into the sewer, but you NEVER want to do that with the black tank...otherwise the liquids will drain and leave the solids which will result in the dreaded poop pyramid, a rock solid pile of DOO DOO in the bottom of the tank which ultimately will turn to concrete and very difficult to remove. The key to a healthy black tank is plenty of water when flushing. Ideally after the last time it was emptied and before a lengthy remote camping trip you put about 5 gallons of fresh water in the tank, so that while you are boondocking you can use a little less precious fresh water when using the toilet. This way the waste and (TP - another story later) will fall in water and begin to break down. You can also minimize fresh water usage by storing your pee in the toilet until you need to do the poo! This way the "water" carries the waste into the tank and adds to the liquid. Plenty of cold beer for happy hour helps with this during the night! My black tank is about 15 - 20 gallons, never measured it but I can go a month or more - 15 gallons is a bunch of waste and with judicious usage and planning plenty of room for one person for quite some time.

TP - Toilet Paper!

On most of the RV forums this is always a huge topic - what to use and what works - some people refuse to put TP down the toilet but choose to put it in a waste basket...I just can't understand that. The RV Companies swear you need to use TP that is specially designed for an RV System...well I am an Angel Soft person and have used it for 5 years with no tissue issues. There is a simple test - mason jar 1/2 full of water - throw three or four squares of your favorite TP - shake gently and let it sit for a couple hours, if it breaks down to a slurry in that amount of time then it will be no problem in your RV! So test what you like - my Angel Soft actually breaks down quicker than the RV paper which is single ply and has the texture of about 80 grit sandpaper.

OK A couple funny black tank stories!

This first one is my own and it happened a number of years ago about 100 feet from where I am currently camped in Kingman, AZ. I was in Moab, Utah with plans to stay for the winter, however it went down to 12 degrees below zero and I headed South for warmer climate. When I arrived it was still cold and below freezing at night but warmer during the day and I discovered my black tank was frozen and would not empty. Dilemma- so bought a space blanket and a small electric heater - draped the reflective space blanket under my black tank with the electric heater on the ground inside the space blanket upside down tent. I waited all day for the tank to thaw out.

Now the fun part!

I was already hooked to the sewer so I went outside and opened the black tank valve and again nothing came out. I was sure it was thawed as I had looked down the I removed the hose (First mistake) then I looked up the pipe with a flashlight and sure enough there was a chunk of ice in the pipe...thinking (not clearly) I retrieved a long screwdriver and poked the ice...well let me tell you there is NO WAY you can get the hose back on or valve closed quick enough to avoid a mess...I am just thankful that there was nobody around to take pictures, and that I was quick enough to get the valve closed before the whole tank emptied but it did involve a change of clothes and a washdown of the area. Then I finished emptying the tank. I now avoid being in areas where the tank can freeze!

This is about a neighbor in an unnamed RV Park.

FULL HAZMAT SUIT - The site directly next to me a large class C pulled in and parked, I was watching the hookup procedure and it seemed to be going fairly smooth with both people sharing in the duties, good job of directing in to the site and on the correct side. The wife mentions that the tanks are full and need dumping and that he should hook up the sewer connection. He said in a minute and pulls a large storage container out of a basement compartment and proceeds to put on a full hazmat suit - not just gloves but a whole suit including one of those fume masks like a painter uses - a respirator. By now I have said hello and could not help but ask if they were fearful of Ebola or something - he says no but it is a large tank and it always sprays all over. Pulls the sewer hose from the container and I notice it only has one end on it - the end that screws into the sewer connection in the ground but the other end is just the hose....he proceeds to try and push the bare hose up and into the RV. I say hold on there you are missing an end...he looks befuddled. I said wait, I will show you....I have a spare short hose for using with my blue tank, so I retrieve it and explain that one end locks onto the RV and works much better. My hose was long enough so we hook it up and he says well that is much easier....we had a couple beers and he said I think I have the other end, but could not figure out how to put it on the had one of those clamps which is wire and you rotate it on the wire in the hose which pulls it up over the hump - pain in the neck to get on, but I helped him and I think he can now lose the full suit.

Enough about waste and boondocking - you have all now been educated!

I am leaving here in the morning, the wind finally seems to be dying down and by the weather reports I can safely head to New Mexico. I am heading to a small RV Park in Tucumcari, NM - in what is supposed to be a very scenic area. Hopefully some good pictures and a more interesting blog update. I will also be watching this next weather front and plan my future travel from there on to Oklahoma and beyond.

Plan to be in Ohio after the weekend. Stay Tuned!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Busy Weekend and busier week ahead!

My time in Twentynine Palms is winding down and this will be a very busy week...the trailer needs a good cleaning and time to pack up all the stuff that has been out all winter - needs to be stowed away and ready to travel.

So before the hard work, I decided to hit the local car show and take a couple more trips into Joshua Tree NP. I finished putting everything away in the clubhouse and giving the floor one last good cleaning.

The floor is clean!

Tables and Chairs are all stacked and put away!

The Marines have been very busy the past few days, with artillery firing and helicopters!

The Car Show!

Neat truck - mid-engine!

A few from Joshua Tree NP

The Vast Mohave Desert

Wonderful Wildflowers Everywhere!

I was fortunate to find a Chollo Cactus in true bloom!

Found a very large Barrel Cactus up the side of a hill, so took a walk!

Always a favorite for Black & White conversion a Chollo Carcass, amazing structure!

My last day of work here is the 22nd - plan to pack up the 23rd and depart on the 24th or so on the long journey!

29 Palms base to summer 2016 - Parker

I have some homework for my Ohio friends - planning next years calendar to be either a Ohio one or Barberton one - put on your thinking caps and give me some places to shoot and help decide on Ohio or just Barberton?

See everyone soon - stay tuned for highlights of the cross country trip!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Blog Update - Evening Outing to The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery

Twentynine Palms, California is very much an artist community, somehow the desert has attracted many artists of all mediums to gather in the desert. There are a number of art galleries throughout the immediate area.

Last night a park resident and musician let me know they were playing at an artist showing at what he called a very unique art gallery about 4 miles out of town in the desert. He suggested there would be many opportunities for some unique pictures and it would be a nice evening to sit in the desert among some locals and enjoy the desert evening and some off I went.

And before you ask - YES there really is a "Glass Outhouse" at the gallery. You can sit and do your business while enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains and desert!

Wonderful outside area to relax and listen to the music!


I think I found MY BAR!

The grounds around the gallery are filled with unique art and a bottle display perfect for the sunset!

Unique art provides the lighting and ambiance!

The grounds are full of art!

There is even a small chapel for unique weddings onsite!

Gallery window!

Watch out for Quicksand!

Someone did not heed the sign!

Even had Bart at the grill!

Still more fun before I leave for Ohio, stay tuned!

Capt. Jim - "The Wanderer"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!