Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Back at North Ranch

February in central Arizona this year had been 10 to 15 degrees below average with nighttime temperatures getting into the low 30's almost every night.  The Mini has an excellent heating system but it chews through the propane pretty quickly and, if boon-docked without hook-ups, really draws the house battery down in no time.  I have a small propane canister fueled heater but it doesn't have a thermostat -- it's either on full or off depending on when I turn the knob so it's useless for warming the Mini at night, although in the morning it quickly heats the inside of the Mini to comfortable temperatures.  So, rather than trying to "tough it out" through the cold spell I drove over to the Escapee's North Ranch RV facility near Congress, AZ.  I reviewed North Ranch previously here:  North Ranch Review .

The office at North Ranch.

With the hookups at my campsite at North Ranch I was able to run my electric space heater, which has a thermostat, at night and it managed to at least keep the Mini in the 50's through the night.

A flock of sparrows live in that cactus and serenaded me throughout the day.

I spent two weeks at North Ranch at a cost of $17.50 a day with my Escapee membership which is an outstanding value for full hookups in Arizona's busy season.  Today is the last of my 14 days here so it's moving day tomorrow.  Heading south tomorrow (hopefully for warmer climes) I'm planning to hit an Anytime Fitness in Buckeye for a workout, stock up the Mini at a near by Walmart then head south of Phoenix to more BLM land at a place called Gunsite Wash, where I've never camped so I'm looking forward to that.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Will you still need me, will you still read me, when I'm...

64.  Yup, I completed my 63rd transit around the big yellow ball yesterday.  People when talking about how old they are always seem to say "It's hard to believe but..." I believe it though!  As a birthday present to myself I lost 15 pounds after I ballooned to 183 lbs after the holidays (I'm 5'9") and 168 feels and looks a LOT better.  I never pass up an occasion to grill up a good birthday meal:

Medium rare NY strip, baker and salad with blue cheese!

It was a great birthday repast!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Craggy Casualty

When you camp at Craggy Wash you are essentially camping on rocks.  Mostly gravel sized stones with an occasional larger rock thrown into the mix.  Readers of the blog know that I no longer have solar panels attached to the roof of my RV (the Mini) instead I deploy them on the ground outside the Mini, adjusting them occasionally to insure they stay perpendicular to the sun for optimal efficiency.  The "Solar Suitcase" I bought from Renogy, a California solar company, has produced well but, frankly, the built-in stand has been a disappointment and proven much too fragile for RV use where the suitcase gets deployed and redeployed frequently.  The weakness of the stand contributed to an unfortunate loss of my solar charge controller when wind blew the suitcase over and caused the controller, which is attached to the back of one of the suitcase's solar panels, to shatter against a particularly sharp-edged rock.

The KIA Solar Charge Controller post-accident.

I'm glad now I didn't make the decision to upgrade the controller to a much more expensive MPPT controller because I'm pretty sure that one would have bit the dust too.  As it is the one PWM controller in the picture above can be replaced for under $30 off Amazon.  You can get upwards of $200 really quickly if shopping for a MPPT controller (they're more efficient in the way they control charging) so I guess I partially dodged a bullet.

Guess I'll head to Amazon and get the order started.  I really need to design a tube stand for the suitcase like I made for the stand-alone panel - it won't be as pretty but it would be a hell of a lot stronger!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Return to Craggy Wash

Leaving the Quartzsite area after my two week stay was up I decided to return to the BLM land at Craggy Wash, just north of Lake Havasu City, AZ.  I reviewed the camp area here:  Craggy Wash Review . 

14 day free camping!

I like camping at Craggy Wash for a number of reasons:  It's removed pretty far away from Highway 95 so there's no road noise to speak of, there's an Anytime Fitness gym in Lake Havasu City and there's a Walmart Super-center two miles away.  Also there's great Verizon reception at the Wash.

The Mini's campsite in Craggy Wash.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to stay my entire 14 days, the weather is perfect - high 70's during the day and mid-50's at night for sleeping.

More Craggy Wash scenery.

Thanks for reading!