Friday, February 27, 2015


I haven't been in an auto accident in over 30 years.  That record ended February 21, the day before my birthday.  I was always skeptical when reading people's accident descriptions that ran along the "The other car appeared out of nowhere." line but I will read those narratives with a little more understanding after I did this to the Tank:

The poor old Tank, sorry Buddy.

I learned this morning that, thankfully, Allstate has decided to repair the damage rather than "total it" and hand me a check for the Blue book value.  Used Silverado 2500's are somewhat hard to find, and when you do find one you pay up for it, I was really relieved to be told the Tank would be fixed.

No serious injuries, thank goodness. No apparent damage to the camper either. I'm renting a small car to get around while the Tank is in the shop.  I'll update any progress as it occurs.

Time to start my next 30 years of accident-free driving.

Thanks for reading! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back at Cedar Hill Park

I'm still hanging out in the Houston area.  I decided to do another three day stop at Cedar Hill Park near Wallisville, TX.

With access to Lake Charlotte. 
No review this visit because I already reviewed it here:  Cedar Hill Park Review .  One of the great things I love about this little park is that I, seemingly, am the only person to ever camp there.  Just like the first time last year once again I had the park as my own personal campground with the exception of an occasional day fisherman.

Being the only camper means you get the best site!
This visit I brought the kayak back out (actually I was just too lazy to take it back to the storage place where my other stuff is after the outing with Becky) but weather wasn't really conducive to kayaking so I never took it off the Tank's roof.

The kayak launch area was really muddy, so I passed.
As I mentioned in my review there aren't any electrical hookups at Cedar Hill Park but there is a group picnic pavilion with live 20 amp outlets if you needed to charge any electronics.  It was dark and stormy one of my days (weak solar) and I took my MiFi modem and the rest of my stuff that was on low power and surfed there on a picnic table for an hour or so and left with everything topped off.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sheldon Lake State Park Houston, TX

The weather in Houston was just gorgeous this past weekend so my friend Becky (aka CampingBuddyBecky) and I decided to check out Sheldon Lake State Park which is actually within the northeast city limits of Houston.

The only State Park in Houston.
Becky is the proud owner of a brand new kayak so our first stop was the boat ramp on the southwest corner of Sheldon Lake, which doubles as one of Houston's reservoirs,

Becky in her new kayak with her $200 graphite paddle!
We kayaked on the lake for about 90 minutes, I somehow managed to not have my kayak's seat set up correctly and had to paddle from almost a recline so back pain for me was the limiting time factor.  Becky was ready to kayak for a much longer period.

A pretty large blue heron amid the lakes bull rushes.

  After loading the kayaks back into the Tank we headed for the Park itself and did some Geo-caching (found three out of a possible four) and climbed the real attraction at the park, the 87 foot high observation tower.

The solar powered observation tower, it even has an elevator!
Urban legend said that on a clear day you could see downtown Houston from the top floor of the observation tower....

A little hard to see in this photo but Downtown was visible!
Here's a shot of Sheldon Lake from the top of the observation tower.

Sheldon Lake.
You may have noticed I didn't do a "Campground Review:" of the park because there is no overnight camping allowed there which is a little unusual for Texas State Parks but, there you go.

Part of the Evironmental Learning Center - we found a Geo-cache there.
Becky and I both came away from Sheldon Lake State Park impressed.  It's very well kept, park employees are really friendly and helpful, and after being there for a while you forget you're still in Houston and not at a more remote location.  It's a great day visit and the only thing that would make it better would be if you could camp there.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 6, 2015

More Juice

I charge all my gadgets using the Tank's solar powered house battery bank.  Most of the time there's more than enough electricity to charge my cell phone, mifi modem, Kindle, etc.  Occasionally I run into a streak of poor solar days like rain or dark clouds and I wished I had additional power stored.  To address that issue I purchased a 10,000 mAh (milli-Amp hour) storage battery.

The battery comes with usb cable and carrying bag.

The battery is from Amazon's Amazon-basics offerings and cost $29.95.  It's slightly larger than by Samsung S4 cell phone and weighs 7.25 ounces.  I like that it is very simply designed.  There are two USB ports on the side, one a 2.4 amp and the other a 1.0 amp.  You can use both ports at the same time for charging purposes.

The side charging ports with the middle one for charging the battery itself.
As soon as you plug into one of the ports the battery automatically comes on and starts charging.  You determine how much of a charge the battery itself has by looking at four blue LED lights on the front -- 4 lit means it has between 76 to 100%, 3 means between 51 to 75%, etc.

The charge LED's,  the 2 marks denote the 2.4 amp port, 1 denotes the 1 amp.
You can charge the Lithium-ion battery by using a USB port on your computer/laptop and since Amazon doesn't ship an AC charger with the battery you might have to.  A faster charging method is to use one of the many mini USB AC adapters from your OTHER electronics that are lying around if you're like me.  The one to my Kindle works fine and its WAY faster than using a USB port to charge the battery so I really recommend it.

So what does 10,000 mAh's give you?  Well, my Samsung S4 has a 2600 mAh battery so I could almost get 4 complete recharges from the Amazon-basics battery.  My Kindle has a 4600 mAh battery so I could get two full recharges to it.  Obviously, we seldom completely drain our devices so you can see that the battery could charge a number of your USB-chargeable devices on a single charge of it's own.  I haven't owned it long but so far it's gone a week and seemingly retained a complete charge.

For as little as it costs, and as transportable as it is, the battery is an excellent back up for heavy cell phone users that struggle to get through a long day on one charge. 

Thanks for reading!