Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Last Look at the Imperial Dam LTVA

Today is the last full day of LTVA boondocking.  I am out or running out of enough stuff that I'll forgo getting my 14 day "medal" that using all 14 days of my BLM sticker would confer. 

Desert moon.
I'm including some miscellaneous photos I haven't been able to slip into my previous posts from Coyote Ridge.

Sunrise coming over the mountains.
I did a 3 mile walk this morning in the near ideal 70 degree with light breeze weather and took these:

Thats a big cave opening but it looked inaccessible to non-mountain goats.

No idea why someone built these on top of a hill.....pyramids?
From the same hill the Tank is the little dot in the center.
It's been a great 40 + days boondocking in the BLM LTVA's and I've, as always, learned a ton about how to do it.  Tomorrow I'll head the 30 miles south to Yuma and stock up for a short stay at the Escapee's KOFA Ko-op and plan my next destination.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back to Coyote Ridge

I left Quartzite and the thousands (literally) of RV's and headed back south to the BLM area around the Imperial Dam.  My intention was to NOT go back to Coyote Ridge where I had camped previously and to try somewhere else but after driving through several different BLM campgrounds either I heard generators running, or all the "good" sites were taken or my cell phone showed weak reception.  So just for a goof I drove back into Coyote Ridge and there was a really nice site that must have just opened up because someone would have jumped it...like I did.

The Tank's second home on Coyote Ridge.
 This time my site is small enough that I don't have to worry about another RV'er wanting to "share it" with me...or at least this time if they ask I'm saying "No."  This site's previous occupiers had done some landscaping or maybe I should call it "rockscaping"?

It almost looks like they transplanted that cactus in the middle tier!

Then after they made the rock garden circle they set up a rock compass that accurately shows north, south, east and west.

What will archeologists 1000 years from now say about this?
My plans are to stay on Coyote Ridge until the 30th or my supplies run low (I'm almost out of dish soap of all things!) then head back down to the Escapee's Yuma Ko-op for the weekend and do laundry, wash the Tank and watch the Super Bowl.  I'll make plans to head wherever from there.
Until then I'll just soak up the view.

Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Quartzsite RV Show (Part 2)

Well I waited until the fourth day of the show and sure enough the crowds had thinned out enough to make walking through the exhibit tent a little less claustrophobic.  I actually paused at some of the displays and weighed making purchases instead of struggling to maintain a slot in a human cattle drive.

Vast improvement in walk-ability over day 1!
Unfortunately the rumors of parts vendors at the show were exaggerated and I completely struck out on finding the parts for the Tank's camper.  Oh well....I got to attend the "World's Biggest RV Show" (twice) at least.  While the desert BLM land around Quartzsite is almost indistinguishable from the BLM land further south around the Imperial Dam, the number of rigs is very much more pronounced around Quartzsite.

This was relatively spacious...1/2 mile closer to the show it was Suburbia!
Also, even though my site is probably 2 miles south of I-10 the expressway is a constant dull drone in the background, night and day.  I guess sound travels further in the desert without buildings and trees to break it up.  So if it's beginning to sound like tomorrow might be moving day you've broken the code.  My plan is to drive back down AZ 95 to the BLM land around the Imperial Dam for the remaining eight days on my 14 day BLM sticker, first stopping at the dump station to dump my tanks.  I'm glad I came to Quartzsite after reading so much online about the sheer spectacle of thousands of  RV's of every size and description and I agree with the folks who told me "If you've never been you have to see it once."  Now I've seen it but not sure how quickly I'll need to see it again.  I will miss the guy in our camp area who ran a really professional karaoke production out of the back of his 5th wheel toy-hauler though.

The karaoke guy had a complete music studio in his trailer. 
I'll do another post when I get a campsite near the Imperial Dam BLM area.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quartzsite RV Show (Part 1)

From the Escapee's KOFA Ko-op I drove up Arizona Hwy 95 eighty miles to the BLM LTVA area just south of Quartzsite, AZ a small town at the crossroads of I-10 and Hwy 95. That pin in the map is my second campsite, the first night I camped in "generator city". I moved the next morning and this time before setting up a site I turned off the Tank and stood outside the cab and listened....Ah! No generators!

The sweet "sound" of solar powered RV's.....silence!

I mentioned before that the Tank has need of a few parts and the RV Show at Quartzsite was rumored to have a number of after-market parts dealers so I walked on about a mile from my campsite to the show which is on Hwy 95 about a half mile south of I-10.  The show is basically a lot of fantastically expensive RV's set up for walk through and lots of more reasonably priced trailers and fifth wheels you can also tour.

Wonder if I could argue him down to $269,000 even?

The tent with the vendor booths seemed to be the big attraction this morning.

Step right up to the Big Top!
Once inside the tent you were in a human traffic jam.  You moved at the pace of the slowest shopper a quarter mile in front of you and if she wanted to stop and look a jewelry for 5 minutes then you weren't going anywhere either -- not quite that bad but close!.

Inside the tent -- blurry because of the constant jostling!
I did see a couple of booths I might have wanted to stop by if not for being swept along in the river of humanity which made me realize I had made a tactical error.  The Quartzsite show lasts from the 18th to the 26th of January and while they get 150,000 visitors probably the majority are on this weekend (duh!).  I'm camped here for two weeks, I can revisit the show during the weekdays next week and probably have the place (comparatively) to my self.  That's why this post is titled Part 1, I'll post Part 2 when the conditions inside the tent are more navigable and I can hopefully find what I need.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Battery Update

This is just a quick post to update what happened the day after solar charging the truck's battery.  As you'll recall the battery had gone completely dead during my boondock on the BLM's remote Coyote Ridge Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) near the Imperial Dam.  About 9 am the next morning I climbed into the truck's cab turned the key in the ignition and it started right up with plenty of cranking power!  I guess the lesson about truck batteries with fill caps is....keep them filled!  I know I'll regularly check fluid levels in it from now on.

The Tank parked back at the KOFA Ko-op.
So I drove back to Yuma went shopping at Walmart, came back out and the truck started again so I drove over to the KOFA Ko-op to spend 3 days getting ready for another 14 day boondock up north around Quartzsite, AZ where a giant RV show begins January 18th through the 26th. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Go Jump Yourself

I did a better job of buying groceries and this boondock session lasted the full 14 days I paid the BLM $40 for.  After a couple of days being out on Coyote Ridge I checked to see if the problematic truck battery would crank the engine.....no.  So I was out in the desert with a dead battery slowly running out of supplies.  As there are tons of neighbors out here it's a little more dire sounding than reality but still presented a hassle.  I could have asked a neighbor for a jump tomorrow when I head back to Yuma but I reasoned that the Tank has a 210 amp hour 12 volt battery powered by it's two solar panels so why not see if all that 12 volt power could be harnessed?  I always carry a set of heavy duty jumpers so the question was if the jumpers would reach from the solar battery to the truck battery.

Connect to the solar battery then out the cab window.....
I learn things about the Tank almost every day.  Today I learned that the screen in the pass through window slides open (I guess to allow passing things to the truck cab) so I passed the jumpers through the open window.

...along the truck side draping over the mirror...
GM puts the truck battery in the passenger side of the engine enclosure, as close to the windshield as they can get it.  While it makes switching out a battery tough it sure helped in this instance by reducing the length the jumpers had  to stretch.....they just made it!

...stretching all the way to the battery....yes!
Prior to hooking the jumpers up I added deionized water to the battery.  It took an additional 8 ounces so I'm hopeful that was the reason the battery wasn't holding a charge.  We'll see, just to check that I'd be able to start with this setup, whether or not the solar power would actually charge the truck battery, I turned the ignition key...

RPM's, Baby!
The truck started immediately!  So I'll always be able to jump start the Tank without anyone else being around which is a good capability to have since not all boondock locations will be as heavily populated as the BLM land around the Imperial Dam in January!

So the plan is to let the solar system charge the truck battery for the rest of today disconnecting as the sun goes down.  Then see if the truck will start itself tomorrow (fingers crossed) which would demonstrate that the truck battery retains a charge.  If not just give it a "solar jump" tomorrow, dump tanks and trash at the BLM office, then go to the Yuma Walmart and have them install a new battery.  While it's great to be have the solar jump option, infinitely better is having a reliable battery (think driving rainstorms).  I'll let you know how things work out.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Boondocking at Coyote Ridge

I'm about three miles southwest of my previous boondocking location, now in California on BLM land in an area posted as Coyote Ridge.

No doubt named after the noisy nocturnal packs.
I've heard coyote packs barking and caterwauling at all times of the night around here though they keep out of sight during the day.  In my last post I bragged about not having neighbors close to me and I must have angered the camping gods because the next day a couple from Washington asked if I minded sharing my perfect boondock spot.  After counting about ten solar panels on the roof of their Class A I deduced that they weren't going to be running a generator 12 hours a day and said "Sure!  You're more than welcome."  Although that might have been a slight exaggeration but they and their two cats keep completely to themselves.

It's unusual to camp so close together out here....but oh well!
I try to get out and hike for at least an hour each day.  Terrain like this makes it very easy to turn an ankle:

Shot by me or the Mars rover?
On one of my hikes I found a nine hole golf course some enterprising folks had set up complete with flag sticks and smoothed out "greens".

A "green".  You can see wild donkey tracks on it if you squint.

I hear wild donkeys every night as they walk past my site on the way to drink at the All American canal.  Someone told me that they are the descendents of prospector's donkeys from the 1870's that ran away or broke free.  The BLM office hands out a flyer that warns that they bite and kick viciously so don't approach them.  They seem to be completely nocturnal like the coyotes so there doesn't seem much chance or running into them.  I'll snap a photo and post it if I do see one.  I feel for my family and readers in the frozen Midwest and won't mention how nice the weather here is...if a bit windy.

Thanks for reading!