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Thursday, January 29, 2015

38 mile journey

Tuesday we never made to the campground. 38 miles down the road the fuel pump failed . . . again. I had been fine since July so I thought that problem was in the past.

We pulled off to the side of the highway. Fortunately, we were towing a boat and qualified for assistance from Boat US. I've always had great service from them. This time was no exception. The tow truck loaded up the van and hitched up the boat trailer. I had them bring us back to my dad's place.

Once back at my dad's I had the tow truck drop the van where there were fewer fire ants. I spread a tarp, crawled under the van and removed the fuel pump.

Wednesday morning I called a local Ford garage. They said they could have a replacement pump by 1:30 but it was going to be over $600. My garage back home confirmed that the pump was still on warranty and faxed the info to the Ford garage in FL. That worked out really well and I was able replace the pump before dark.

My lovely wife and I are heading down south once more. We couldn't get all our campground fees refunded, but my wife got a good chunk of it back. Even better, we are actually going camping again.

Something will have to be done about the van always blowing fuel pumps. I lay awake in bed thinking over our vehicle options. It ran for many many miles without destroying fuel pumps. The only thing that's different is that my main veggie supplier switched to a heavier hydrogenated oil. Maybe that's causing just enough stress to drastically reduce the life of the pumps.

Maybe it's time to drop my supplier and limit the van to vacation and tow vehicle duty instead of being a daily driver. My lovely wife's car died and that gives us the opportunity to replace it with something else -or maybe just get a bigger boat and spend our winters on that.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How the wealthy bug out

. . . and how it will do them no good whatsoever.

The wealthy are making bug out plans. They are buying private farms next to private air strips.

It has happened before. When the Roman Empire was falling, many of the elite and wealthy retreated to their fortified country villas. So how did that work for them? Picture this: hordes of barbarians and villas full of nice stuff. How do you think that turned out? Maybe they even had some private security. How much is bought loyalty worth when the barbarians are at the gate?

Let's just say that the territories of the former Roman Empire are not dotted with wealthy villas populated by the decedents of the original owners. Instead, the lands are covered with castles and fortifications built during the “dark” ages by folks who once were the barbarians.

Elite retreat locations have some value. If your countrymen are approaching your estate with pitchforks and torches, it might be a good idea to have a place and assets in another country. Dictators from around the world have followed this plan. It only works when the problem is localized. There has to be a nice stable place to go to. In a globalized world, those islands of stability look both small and temporary. The rich's success in bringing the world under one big umbrella will be their downfall.

Their best defense for long term survival is a fully functioning society that's fair and equitable. Of course, that might cut into short term profits, so I'm betting with the barbarians.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Down the coast

I'm not trying to rub it in. There's a blizzard going on back home in New England but I'll be heading further down the Florida coast. It's warmer further south. Right now I've got three nights booked in the Ft. Myer's area. Then we are booked into Key Largo for another three nights. After that we'll figure out what to do or where to go.

Hey, I couldn't go home if I wanted to right now. The airports and roads are closed. Besides, my house is frozen solid and soon to be buried in snow.

We know some folks who escaped New Hampshire about the time we did and went straight to Key West. As a veteran he can stay in the military campground -the best deal on the island. If you like to camp and are a vet there are some great campgrounds. I'm not a vet myself so those places are not open to me. Fair is fair. Veterans should get a few perks for their service.

Most campgrounds in the Keys are booked solid this time of year. Sometimes there are last minute cancellations. If a person is willing to be flexible sometimes it's possible get some sweet camping sites. Last year we booked a week in the Keys by stringing together last minute cancellations from three campgrounds. None of them are all that far apart so it's not a hardship.

Of course, I don't expect any sympathy about last minute bookings from the folks back home in the blizzard.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Electric boat

We tested the electric trolling motor on the Ooze Goose today. There are a number of things that should be avoided during the first test. Go up river instead of down. That way if there is a problem you are traveling with the current to get back. Don't run the test in an area you've never been before. Maybe it's not a good idea to run all afternoon at full speed before you know the range of the battery.

Yep, we did all those things: down river into unknown areas for a fair distance. I more than half expected to have to row at least some of the way back. Nope, we finished the day with plenty of reserve left in the battery.

It was a great trip.

My lovely wife ran the motor. Notice it's mounted off center. That allows the operator to sit centered in the boat. When I get around to building the sail rig the rudder will mount in the center of the transom.

Here I tried to get a shot of the bow of the boat including the solar panel mount. It's only a 30 watt panel, but it does extend the range. If the boat sits in the sun for a few days it will top off the battery.

One of the cool things about swamp boating in the south is seeing things that are rare up north. Air boats come to mind.

My lovely wife was tempted to follow him but I told her not to. He can travel over weeds that would foul our prop.

All in all, another great day on the water. Sure beats shoveling out from a New England blizzard.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Strange attractors

My little project boat attracts a lot of attention. People see me fiddling with my boat and they come running over to share stories. They've shared stories of the time their mast hit a power line, or how every time they the went sailing they ran aground. Some wonder what I'm going to do with such a little boat. A goodly number are people who've always wanted to build a boat but never did.

Actually, a lot of people talk about either never starting to build a boat or never finishing a boat. It makes me feel a lot better about my boat's rough finish. It's not a showboat, but it's been in the water.

Driving around in a converted ambulance also gathers a lot of attention. About half the folks figure out it was an ambulance and are curious to see what I did with it. The paint job that my lovely wife and grandkids did attracts people too. Some folks just figure the hippy days never ended for me.

When the strange little boat is being towed by the weird vehicle we get a lot of stares. A few will come over and talk, but many act like I'm way outside their comfort zone. That's a little sad. Their grip on reality is a bit sweaty.

Today we plan on taking the boat back on the river. There's a new motor mount on it for my trolling motor. While I was at it I mounted a solar panel on the cabin hatch. It's designed so I can remove the panel and move it to a sunnier place. The motor is the same 55lb thrust motor that moves my Oday 19 at 3 knots. Can't wait to see how it performs on the little boat.

In a few days we'll be heading further down state. There are some rivers and bays that are calling my name -attracting me, so to speak.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Scouting mission

The map is not the territory -even a really good satellite Google map.

That's why my lovely wife and I spent a day checking out parks and boat ramps. It wasn't a day for being on the water due to high winds and a thunderstorm moving in. We drove over 100 miles (mostly burning veggie instead of diesel).

We found three ramps that would work for us. One of them looked kinda sketchy from all on-line sources. Once we got there we were pleasantly surprised. The neighborhood was nice and the park appeared in excellent shape. The boat launch was unpaved, but checking it out in person revealed it was usable. The best part? No fees and overnight parking is allowed. There are very few boat ramps like that in Florida. It's only good for shallow draft boats, but that's what we have with us this year.

The other ramps were $5 and $6 a day. The $5 ramp is near an island were we could boat out to and camp for free.

We took our time. The two of us had a relaxed lunch at a restaurant. My lovely wife got lost in a consignment store for a while. Later the two of us lingered over coffee and discussed future plans. Every year we do something different. Sometimes it's a little different. Sometimes it's a lot different.

Of course, the amount of money we can spend on adventure will have some bearing on exactly what we do. Most winters it doesn't cost us anymore to travel than it would to stay home and heat the house. Northern winters are expensive.

Right now the thing to do is to see what adventures we can have this winter.


Friday, January 23, 2015

The wonderful world of car insurance

We left my wife's car with my niece back in New Hampshire. She only had it a couple of days before it basically fell apart. She was able to get it back to my driveway so there it sits. We felt kinda bad for her, but we are glad she didn't get hurt when the car died.

I called the insurance company and asked about taking the insurance off it. Here's the weird part. They told me that if I took the insurance off the car my bill would go up. Say what? I'd lose my multi-car discount and it's actually cheaper to insure two cars than one. I was able to reduce the bill from full coverage to just comprehensive. Then I bumped the deductible up from $50 to $500. I am curious to see how that will shake out.

My van only has liability insurance. I didn't even want them to try and figure out how to cover damage on a former ambulance converted to a camper van. Last year I rear ended a car with my van and the insurance company paid the claim. My insurance bill never went up, so that was good.

The van insurance is pretty cheap as it's classified as a motor home. Most folks don't use their motor home as a their daily driver, so rates are low. They figure on someone like me who runs their vehicle on waste veggie oil. The “motor home” is actually slightly shorter than my old Ford F250 extended cab was.

Eventually I'm going to have my wife's car hauled away for scrap. Unless we buy a second car, my insurance will go up. I wonder what would happen if I got rid of all my vehicles? No doubt my house insurance would go up as I currently get a good discount from having both vehicle and house insurance with the same company.

Apparently my insurance company polices are designed for normal people: folks with a house and two cars.