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Friday, April 17, 2015

Low cost camping and electricity



One of the very last things I did to the van before our trip was to install a 105 watt solar panel on the roof. That very day it started snowing, putting an end to my outdoor driveway projects. I'm glad I got the job done.

Normally we count on campgrounds having at least 15 amp electric service. This camping season we did without conventional electric power more often than not.

My lovely wife has a discount card that allows us to camp half price at Federal Campgrounds. That's great, but a lot of Federal campgrounds have limited electrical hookups. Those fill up first. Everyone who could get away from the cold north this year appears to have done so. Campgrounds have been busy. The only sites available have been non-electric. The next two campgrounds on our journey north don't even have electric sites. Having our own power also allows to dry camp in places like Walmarts and truck stops.

The last few days have been cloudy and rainy. Even so, we've been getting enough power to run my
c-pap, charge the phones, computers, tablet, and hotspot. Being connected to the Internet sure makes travel much easier. We can find what we need and where to go.

-Sixbears

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Found on the side of the road



One of the hassles of travel is getting my lovely wife's prescriptions filled. When on the road we generally stick to a certain national chain since their computers can talk to each other. That doesn't mean things go smoothly. This time they didn't want to fill her prescription because she's been moving around too much. What? Is freedom of movement now a suspicious activity? Her doctor back home had to fax information directly to the local branch to make it happen. It can sometimes take several days to get these things sorted out.

On the bright side, near the drugstore was an actual for real used bookstore. It was like a blast from the past. Not only did they have an extensive selection of books, they also had vinyl records. Asheville North Carolina must have a large hipster population or something. Well, it is a college town so there's that..

One of my pet peeves is the high price of downtown parking. My van is too high to fit in the municipal parking garages so I have to feed meters on the street. It's not cheap, but even worse is the two hour limit. We were thinking of catching a movie, but the run time was longer than the meter limit.

We had dinner with family and friends downtown our first day here. People kept having to run outside and feed the meters. Asheville is just doing what other other cities are doing. Just like those other cities, Asheville is missing out on some of our business.

Of course, if we'd stuck in town we'd have never found that great used bookstore on the outskirts.

-Sixbears

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Solar Trailer



This little trailer was designed for off-grid music concerts.

It has two 180 watt panels and 4 Trojan batteries.

The inverter is a true sine wave inverter that makes clean electric power for a sound system.

The sound system is not pictured here, but it is sized to work all day with the power available from the solar trailer.

This one is used for concerts, but there are many other uses. Some people build solar trailers where local restrictions don't allow house installations. They are also super handy for building an off-grid house. The trailer runs power tools. Once the house is built the solar panels are mounted on the house.

-Sixbears

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

North Carolina Rain



So we made it to Asheville North Carolina. There's light rain now, but it's supposed to really start coming down. There are local flash flood watches. Glad we don't plan on driving very far the next few days.

We did over 800 miles since we left Missouri. One night we just pulled into a truck stop. The next night we connect with my wife's uncle and aunt in Tennessee. The last time we saw them was over 5 years ago when we happen to meet up in Texas. We had a great visit and they treated us well. Good food and good conversation.

Monday we met up with my daughter and her family. They are heading south and we are heading north. The plan is to all get together with friends in Asheville for dinner before they continue their journey.

I'm told things are still pretty frozen solid up north. The cross country ski trails by my house still have 100% coverage. They tell me the frost went down past 6 feet this winter. Quite a few people are still without water.

Can't wait to get back . . . .well, I can wait a little. It will be a slow trip north.

-Sixbears

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Road Tripping

On the road again. Tennessee right now. North Carolina by Monday.

-Sixbears

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Apple toys



Anyone else think it's ironic that Apple has made a watch? Thanks in large part to smart phones we no longer need a watch to tell the time.

Yes, the Apple watch does much more than tell the time. So what? I can't think of one really burning need it satisfies -unless one counts the need to have the latest Apple toy.

Early technology adopters pay a huge price for being first in line. I'm usually way back in the pack. That way by the time I get into something it has proven its value, the bugs are worked out, and the price has come down. I was an early adopter of solar electric technology, but it was the price of freedom and independence. Those old solar panels are still cranking out power too.

Most electronic gadgets plummet in value very quickly. Ever get excited about 10 year old electronics? Think about how worthless a 10 year old Apple watch will be. Anyone still enjoying their LISA computer? Didn't think so.

There is a limited market in old electronics, but it's a nostalgia market. They aren't so much selling equipment as they are selling memories. However, for every person who has fond memories of their old gameboy there are piles of electronic junk best forgotten.

The Apple watch may catch on. I assume the company has done plenty of market research. Who knows, maybe in the future it will be useful and the price will be right. That future isn't here yet, in my opinion. I've got a lot of other more pressing needs than a new wrist toy.

-Sixbears

Friday, April 10, 2015

Car Shopping



My lovely wife's car died and we'll have to replace it soon after we get home. I don't want the veggie van to be our daily driver anymore. The plan is to use it more like an RV and tow vehicle for our boats. That way we can get a few more years out of it.

I had been thinking of getting another diesel, maybe even another old Mercedes to convert to veggie. Sadly, I think my veggie burning days are coming to an end. Good quality WVO is getting hard to get. So that puts me in the general car market. I haven't bought a real car in years. My most recent vehicle purchase was a decommissioned ambulance.

A small pickup truck would be nice, but they don't really make small pickups anymore. The newer pickups out there don't excite me. Whatever happened to little ½ ton manual shift pickups that could get 35 mpg?

Oh yeah, my lovely wife is perfectly happy driving a stick, so that opens up things a bit.

I'm wondering if we should just settle for a little econo banger car, but we really hate to settle.

Should we get an older used vehicle and avoid payments? Perhaps we should suck it up and buy a new or newer car with some sort of warranty?

Any ideas out there? Something with decent mileage and a bit of character?

. . . an no Mr Flying Tortoise, we don't want a mule team.

-Sixbears