May 30th, 2024

While I was camping up near Mormon Lake, Craigslist advertised a Jeep for sale. The price was right and it was already set up to tow. I asked my brothers if they would go take a look at it for me. They were free a day later and drove two hours to check it out. They felt it was in good shape and would make me a better vehicle than my little Smart Car. Long story short, thanks to Don and Richard, I’m now the owner of a 2013 Jeep Patriot. 

My Smart car had served me well, and I can say that it didn’t owe me anything after 5 years of dependable transportation. The Smart was a good upgrade from my motorcycle, carrying water, groceries, laundry, my kayak, and running to doctors appointments without worry about the weather. It was good on gas and easy to tow, but it had some limitations that made moving up to a bigger vehicle more sense. This Jeep will travel back roads better and be lots more comfortable on long highway trips. It also has lots more room for passengers and cargo. It’s heavier, so more difficult to tow up hills, and it will undoubtedly use more gas. One thing I like about owning it is the fact it’s easier to find repair shops. There are very few places that will even work on Smart cars anymore. 

I stayed for two weeks at Donnas, taking care of Hannah and house sitting while she was on a cruise in the Mediterranean. It worked out well to spend the time in Mesa because I could fix up my Smart to sell and get the new vehicle licensed and registered. I sold the Smart car the same day I advertised it. I probably didn’t ask enough for it judging by the number of calls I got that were interested, but I wanted a quick sale and the ability to move on.   

Right now I’m up near Payson, AZ camping in a place that’s 5500’ altitude. Temperatures are going over 100 degrees everyday in the Phoenix area and it’s about 20 degrees cooler here. I’ll probably go up on the rim in another week or so. Camping on the Mogollon Rim is at or above 7000’, so it’s quite nice in the summer. Donna will come up and camp with me in her motorhome in a couple weeks. We have talked about going up into Colorado this summer. We will have to play it by ear. 


February 7th, 2024

With all the improvements and additions I have made to my electrical system, I finally outsized my inverter.  My Xantrex 2000 watt inverter has been a workhorse for the last three years, plugging along continuously and supplying all my electrical needs. It wasn’t until I added an electric hot water heater that I realized I had to have more power. 

Even though my 2000 watt inverter would supply power to all my appliances, I could only run one at a time. If I forgot and turned on the microwave or toaster at the same time I was cooking on the induction stovetop, the inverter would beep and shutdown from overload. This was alright as long as I remembered what I was using and juggled appliances accordingly. It wasn’t until I installed the water heater that I would overload the inverter on one device. The water heater was advertised as 1500 watts, but in reality it used 2000 watts. That’s too much draw for the inverter to maintain for more than a minute. I could still power the water heater with my generator, but that’s not what I want to do. I’m trying to get away from using fossil fuel as much as possible. 

I started looking at larger inverters and came across a 3000 watt pure sine wave model made by Renogy. Renogy is making good devices for the off-grid and RV community and their products are getting better all the time. They don’t have the reputation of a Victron or Magnum inverter but they are hundreds of dollars less. The inverter I wanted was on sale at Amazon, and I also got $100 off by opening a credit card with them. I always pay my credit cards in full each month so there was no downside to getting another card. And I get points on each purchase to use towards future purchases. After thinking about it for a couple days, I pulled the trigger and ordered it. 

Installation was easy with slight modifications for wires and orientation. It fired up and so far has been working fine. It’s very quiet and the fans only run with high loads. I still have some wiring to change and some circuit breakers to replace, but those can be done at a later time. 

It comes with a remote control that you can mount to a wall and switch the inverter on and off, but that is something I probably won’t use. I have the inverter running my whole rig, and shutting the inverter down not only interrupts power to devices that I’m not using, but also cuts off power to the fridge and freezer. 

Another thing I’m trying out is an electric blanket. Instead of piling on tons of blankets and quilts, I just have the thin electric blanket on low for part of the night and it keeps me toasty warm. I don’t usually turn it on until closer to morning, except to warm the bed before I get in. 

It seems like everything I work on in my motorhome has me squatting or kneeling down, and my knee doesn’t like that. I have to take way more breaks now than I used to a few years ago. The knee is getting better all the time and I can walk and bike with no pain. After a day of squatting and working, it still is a little sore. 

My siblings like to tease me saying, “now you will have to get more solar, now you will need more batteries”, and who knows. I don’t like to think of my time as just being a camper. I’m going to make it as comfortable as I can without going overboard. Doing improvements and fixing my nest, keeps me active and happy. And that’s the main thing. 

Hot Water

December 10th, 2023

Part of my quest to go total electric is figuring out ways to heat water without burning propane. A few years ago I mounted a large black pipe on the roof of Minnie and let the sun heat my water. It works quite well when I have good sun and it’s not too cold out. The only problem is that you have to use the water late in the day and long before the sun goes down. If you wait too long, the water cools quickly to an unusable temperature. In the cold days of winter, it’s sponge baths or burn propane for a shower. I longed for an occasional shower right before bed without burning propane.

I started exploring small electric hot water tanks that are made to mount under the kitchen sink and give you instant hot water without waiting for delivery through long pipes from the main hot water tank. These tanks usually hold only 3 gallons of supply and recover quickly. I found a prime deal of 20% off on one and ordered it for a Christmas present to me.

I puzzled over where to mount the unit and came to the conclusion that pulling the propane water heater out and installing it in the same place would be easy and give me hot water to all my sinks and shower.

I spent the last two days disconnecting the old unit and installing the new electric one. Parts here in Quartzsite are twice what they cost at Home Depot, but the hardware store is close and had Sharkbite connectors I like to use. Four connectors and a propane plug cost me almost $50.

I have been testing it out today and I think it’s going to work fine. With all my batteries and solar, heating the water only uses a small percentage of my power. I timed my shower and came up with 4.5 minutes of hot water. That’s plenty for me( I don’t spend much time washing my hair). The only thing that concerns me is the fact that it takes 1850 watts of power when heating. That’s almost maxing out my inverter. The specs said 1500 watts. I’ll have to be careful to turn everything else off when I use it.

As with everything I tinker with, I’ll undoubtedly find out more as I use it. I’ll try to update how it’s working in a later post.

Back in Q

December 6th, 2023

I’m back camping in Quartzsite now. The knee is coming along well and I can walk without pain once again. I have to be careful that I don’t do too much, because even though my knee is fixed, I’m way out of shape from a couple years of not doing much but holding down a chair. It sure seems wonderful to get out for walks. 

Quartzsite has been chilly. Mornings are in the low 40s and it usually doesn’t get out of the 60s in the afternoon. We have had two days of temps in the high 70s but it’s not supposed to last past today. I have been burning propane in the mornings, so even with all my solar and batteries, I have had to rely on fossil fuel for heat. The good thing is that I don’t use much in this small space. 

I have been working on some small projects around my rig. Seems like something always needs fixing. Just setting up my solar, propane bottles, rugs and chairs is more work as I get older. The nice thing is that I can do a little at a time. 

In another week I will watch Hanna for 4 days when Donna goes to Disneyland. It might be good to have a pet for company for a few days, but I’m not looking forward to taking her out to go potty in the early morning. 

That’s all for now. I just wanted to update my knee progress. I’m not having any pain while walking but bending it still hurts a little, and I wake in the night once or twice and need to move the joint to get comfortable. I think I’m doing great at 7 weeks since surgery. 

Knee surgery

November 12th, 2023

It is time to document my latest ordeal with my health issues.

On October 18, 2023, I underwent surgery for a total knee replacement. My knee has become progressively painful in the last few years, to the point that walking any distance further than into a store was unbearable. I was faced with the option of becoming a “couch potato” for the rest of my life or doing something to fix the problem.

I weighed two scenarios that were basically cons, and one that was most important for a happy lifestyle. Any surgery at my age is a risk. A young body will heal faster and recovery is a lot easier. The second drawback I faced is a steel rod that was inserted 35 years ago into my tibia and needed to be removed to allow room for the prosthetic knee parts. The rod in my leg bone was the scariest part of the operation and could cause severe damage trying to remove it. I weighed the negative aspects against the one positive outcome of the surgery- walking and hiking without pain – and decided the risk of the complications did not outweigh the hope of a better lifestyle.

I’m three weeks past my surgery now and so far everything is going good. My surgeon found that he could place the artificial knee parts without removing the rod. I was in terrible pain for a few days and had to rely on pain pills for a couple weeks. I used a walker for a week, then a cane for a few more days, and now I’m walking unaided and increasing the distance each week.

I’ve had a couple setbacks. I still have a hard time sleeping and I wake often, all tangled up in the bed covers like I was wrestling with and intruder, until I realize that my knee is hurting from placing it somewhere it doesn’t like. I had some sore muscles and joints that I blame on a zealous Physical Therapist that doesn’t realize I have not used those muscles very much in the last couple years. And sometimes I just don’t feel well for no particular reason.

All information I research shows that I am way above the curve in recovery. I’ll try to update my progress in a later post. The one thing I want to say is that none of this would have been possible without the aid of my sister Donna. She opened her home, provided me transportation, fed me meals, and nursed me back to health. I so much appreciate the care she so generously provides me to this day.