Isolation

August 10th, 2020


I just received a text from my daughter Karen wondering if I was still kicking around. She has been checking my blog from time to time to see if anything new has been posted. I guess I should write an update to prove I’m still here in the real world. When most of my days are filled with isolation, parked in the forest surrounding Flagstaff, watching the days go by from my RV, it takes some of the fun out of being retired. 

My knee has been getting progressively worse. Hiking used to be one of my great loves and that is becoming harder and harder to do. I try to stay active as much as I physically can. I bought a metal detector, a hobby I had years ago , and that gets me outside and moving when it’s not too hot. It seems like I can always find something to do to either fix or improve things on the RV. Just packing up and moving every two weeks is work to load and unload everything. 

I make a trip into town at least once a week to buy supplies. I’m careful to mask up every store I’m in and I carry a small bottle of sanitizer in my pocket. I guess there is no 100% method for protection against this virus, but I’m doing all I can short of living under a rock. 

Daryl, Donna, and Richard & Dianna are all living in Phoenix suburbs of Tempe and Mesa. Donna lives in almost complete isolation so she stays clean to visit Brian, Carrie and the kids. Richard and Dianna bought a house in Mesa and they have been remodeling, reorganizing, improving and otherwise making it into their nest for the future. They took their trailer to Texas to use as a vacation home when they visit family there. Daryl has been busy helping Richard with project on their house and also helping his son, Derek and Derek’s fiancée move into a new house. Don still lives in LA, working from home during the pandemic. Don’s wife Betty has been in and out of the hospital with some medical problems and we wish them well. 

That’s about it. Not sure what the future holds but have to hope for the best. 

Pandemic

May 5th, 2020
Willard Springs road

For the last two months I have spent most of my time hiding from the Covid 19 virus. When everyone started getting serious about the widespread and devastating effect of the illness, Richard, Dianna and I were camping at the Imperial Dam LTVA near Yuma. The virus seems to affect the elderly and those with health conditions the most, so we were extremely determined not to come down with the bug. 

The temperatures in Yuma were getting too warm to camp without AC so Richard and Dianna moved into a rental site in the foothills of Yuma where they could plug in, and I headed north to find cooler temperatures with altitude. 

Yuma seemed like a good place for R&D to ride out the Coronavirus. The case count was low in the city and the stores even offered parking lot pickup for groceries. They have even patronized some restaurants by getting drive-through orders of food. Everyone’s future is uncertain in this time of pandemic but at least we have our basic income and haven’t been affected with a lost job. 

I first moved back to Quartzsite. The temperatures were getting up into the 80’s but that doesn’t bother me as much as some. As long as I have a shady spot to sit outside, and I don’t have to work, I’m plenty happy with 80 degrees.  The LTVAs actually close April 15 but they were not making people leave. They did however, shut off the water and close the dump station. I had emptied my tanks and filled all my containers with water so I was able to remain a week after the LTVA closed. 

From Quartzsite I moved to Sedona for two weeks. I found a nice camping area on a forest road half way between Sedona and Cottonwood. The only problem was that the area was also a shooting area and gunfire was a constant annoyance. If I ever go back there I will know to park back in an area where they don’t shoot as much. 

With my hand washing system I had extended my clean/dirty clothes pile for over a month but it was time to hit the laundromat. It was sad to see how many customers at the laundromat and even in Walmart that were not wearing masks. I didn’t go anywhere unless I really needed something and always got in and out as quickly as I could. And I always wore a mask and carried a small bottle of hand sanitizer everywhere I went. 

Yesterday, May 4, 2020, I moved up near Flagstaff. I know of several spots to disperse camp within a few miles of Flagstaff and my plan is to spend the summer here. I know a couple people here but we are all keeping our distance from each other. The temperatures are perfect, high 70’s days and nights in the 50’s. I have to go into town to get propane and more water soon. I heard from a friend that stayed here that said those things are still available. 

I fear it’s going to be a summer of lonely existence. Luckily I have texting to stay in touch with family, several forms of entertainment, and all my basic needs met. I am quite comfortable with myself. For some that have lost jobs or can’t stand the isolation from their friends, this time will be devastating for them. With the death toll in this country almost 70,000, and some predicting maybe twice that by Fall, I will gladly live this life of quiet isolation than become one of those statistics. 

Redneck Washing Machine

March 17th, 2020


Laundry in Yuma

I bought the washing plunger a year ago so I could wash out a few things by hand and extend the time between trips to the laundromat. It’s been working well but still requires more work than I like. 

The main thing I don’t like is wringing clothes out by hand. I don’t have the strength to twist them to get all the water out and there is always a little soap left after a rinse or two. 

I saw these hand wringers like grandma used to use on Amazon but they were always too expensive. With COVID 19 on the loose, I rationalized that I didn’t want to spend time in laundromats with people fondling virus ridden clothes from washer to washer. This would maybe get me through the dirtiest of days. Go ahead and laugh now. 

You Dirty Rat!

October 30th, 2019

Unwanted hitchhiker!

I have been lucky in my years RVing to never suffer an infestation of rodents in my engine – until now. While camping on the Burnhardt Road just outside Rye, AZ., I was invaded by pack rats. I keep the engine hood open and put a light under the front end but it didn’t deter these little buggers.

One morning I peered down in the shadows of my motor and thought I could see some sticks and grass. I pulled the air cleaner out and sure enough the space under the alternator was full of sticks, mesquite pods, and prickly pair fruit. I removed everything I could reach with some tongs and packed up to get out of there.

I spent the night at Walmart in Payson, sure that I had left the pack rats behind in the desert. When I opened up the hood the next morning I saw a rat scurry back behind the engine. I couldn’t believe he could survive the drive of 20 miles the afternoon before. Not having any more options, I drove 80 miles down to Phoenix thinking the engine heat would make him drop out on the way.

After I parked at brother Daryl’s, I bought an electronic rat trap and some poison just in case he hitchhiked all the way down. The next morning the trap was empty but I could see where they were rebuilding the nest. I rebated the trap with peanut butter and offered a cup of poison for good measure. During the next night he wandered into the trap and met his demise.

I’m pretty sure he was the only one I brought down. I’m keeping the trap set just to make sure, but so far there has been no activity.

Sticks behind the engine.

Today I pulled out the engine cowling that allows access to the back of the engine to see if there were any nest building that I couldn’t see. I was shocked to see sticks and pods and fruit jammed into the back of the compartment. There were even cow pies and dirt clods dragged into the space. I spent several hours digging and removing almost a bushel of debris. It must have taken them hundreds of trips to bring it all in.

Box full of nesting material.

One thing is for sure – I must be a heavy sleeper to have not heard the invasion. So far I have not found any damage. Rodents are known for getting in engines and chewing wires. They can do hundreds of dollars damage. I will have to be more careful from now on and make sure I’m protected from pesky varmints.

Swamp Cooler

October 11th, 2019

Burnhardt Road Rye AZ

Payson weather was getting too cold overnight, so after a week at our campsite, we decided to move to a lower altitude. The ladies went over to Cottonwood and I drove south to a spot just outside Rye, Arizona.

Rye is only 15 miles from Payson but 2000’ lower in altitude. I figured that some daytime temperatures would be quite warm but nothing very uncomfortable. It turns out that a few days have been up into the 80s, a perfect temperature as long as you can sit in the shade and enjoy a beverage. The inside of Minnie, however, becomes too warm as the sun beats down and cooks the walls. With that thought in mind, I wanted to document here the homemade air conditioner I built.

If you don’t want to hear about mechanical contraptions you can skip this part.

I can’t fully take credit for the design of my evaporative cooler but I have long had the idea way before I found out others had similar designs. I have a large box fan purchased this summer that I would place in the window and use a mister bottle to spray the air in front of me. This worked ok but was tedious and inefficient. I tried soaking towels and hanging them in front of the fan. I tried blowing the fan across a tray of water. Nothing worked very well. Then I got the idea of placing a cooler pad in front of the fan and dripping water through the pad and catching it in a tray below. When I looked on YouTube, it turned out a few others had the same idea and explained in detail how they built one.

My first design had the cooler pad in front of the fan. Placing the pad behind the fan draws more air than trying to push air through the fan but I was worried about moisture getting into the fan motor. I finally rationalized that box fans are so cheap that even if they only lasted a couple years it was worth the increased efficiency to pull air through the pad.

Cooler unit

My final design (so far, I’m always tweaking it) uses a frame of pvc pipe with holes drilled along the top and a cooler pad held inside the frame. A small fountain pump circulates water up the pipe where it trickles down through the pad into a plastic tote. The whole frame and pad are attached to the fan and placed in the window. I cut the tote lid for shrouds to seal the unit to the window.

Circulation pump

Cooler pad and frame

Evaporative cooling works well when the humidity is low. On very dry days I have seen the air temperature as much as 15 degrees lower than the outside temperatures. When the humidity gets above 25% or 30%, the cooler will only take a few degrees from the outside air.

My swamp cooler would not be possible without the new lithium ion battery I put in. I have to give credit to the extra power it produces to run a box fan and fountain pump for hours on end.

Once everything is set up and running, all I have to do is add water every couple hours. It’s amazing how much water will evaporate into the air. And I guess there is a benefit to health too. Studies show that a slight increase in humidity is better for us than very dry air.