Saturday, February 29, 2020

Grid Down

My local electric company sends e-mails when the grid goes down. That doesn’t do anybody any good if they need electric power to get their e-mail, but there you go.

Apparently the storm has hit my home area pretty hard. I’ve been getting e-mails from them about the power going down, coming up and then going down again. Sounds nasty.

Of course, this doesn’t really affect me while I’m traveling down here in Florida. New Hampshire snow storms are far away. A lot of people keep the heat on when they travel south for the winter. That has always seemed like a waste to me. Then there’s always the chance of power going out and their houses freezing anyway. Better to have the plumbing drained and the house winterized to survive without power.

It doesn’t even take a power outage to freeze a house. The furnace could fail, a not uncommon occurrence. Sometimes there’s a snafu with the fuel delivery company and the furnace just runs out.

When I get these little notices from the power company, it reaffirms my decision to properly winterize the house before heading south for the winter.


Friday, February 28, 2020

More Coronavirus Concerns

A friend up in Maine has already noticed supply disruptions caused by the coronavirus. I’m camping out in the woods right now so my shopping has been limited. Everyone has heard that surgical masks have been in short supply, but he noticed issues with OTC meds and paper products. It’s not a critical shortage yet, but some brands are just gone.

My first inclination is pull up stakes and head back north to home. However, that’s not as easy as it sounds. My part of NH just got buried in another snowstorm. It would take a lot of work to get to the house. It doesn’t have any heat on and the water’s been drained. The original plan was to wait until the snow had melted before going home. Also, it could use a heating oil delivery. Once the place is warmed up, it would take a lot of effort to get the water flowing again. Everything is harder when the ground’s still frozen.

In the short term the plan is to continue with our southern trip, but we are going to keep an eye on events. My main concern is that there would be restrictions on travel making it difficult to get back.

This sort of thinking might seem like an overreaction, but I don’t think so. This sort of disease could very quickly overwhelm our ability to handle it. Heck, we can’t even keep the normal flu from killing thousands of people.

We prepare for unlikely events all the time. However, this looks like it’s going to hit pretty hard. For me, the big question is when.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Things you see along the road

I saw this 4X4 parked in Salt Springs Florida. The company: Ocala Bigfoot Tours.

I don’t anything about the company, but I thought it was kinda neat. You never know what you are going to run into in the Ocala.


Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Dow dive no surprise

Here we are at a “primitive” campsite in the Ocala. Basically, what that means is that there’s no electricity or other hookups at the otherwise very civilized campsites. Today there was finally enough charge from the solar panels to fire up the computer.

After going on-line I discover that the stock market has taken a pretty good tumble while I wasn’t looking. That comes as no surprise. It was just a matter of time. With China’s economy pretty much shut down from the coronovirius, what did you expect to happen?

Eventually all those just-in-time goods, parts and supplies had to run out. The big question is: will the supply lines ever start up again? A number of companies were questioning the wisdom of foreign parts suppliers and manufacture even before the virus scare. Now they have strong incentive to keep more operations local.

In short term it’s going to be a mess. Businesses are going to pull back and hunker down. Eventually things will settle out to a new normal. Logically, it would make sense to manufacture back in the US again, even if it costs more. Things would be more expensive, but on the other hand there would be more US manufacturing jobs.

I’m not sure how agriculture would shake out. People still have to eat.

Of course, there could be enough disruptions in the system to really set everything back. If that happens, expect nations to turn to war. That’s what they do when they can’t solve internal problems. Once again, we are in for some interesting times.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Self Care

I was talking to a buddy of mine on the phone. He just had his much dreaded annual checkup. The guy had been concerned about his blood pressure. At his last visit they were talking medication to keep it under control. My friend really hates to take meds. With that in mind, he made some changes in his life.

Diet? Exercise? Nope. He did two things. He limited the amount of time he spent following the news. While he didn’t go on a total news blackout, he cut way back and basically skimmed the headlines. The second thing he did was avoid his step-father. The old man has terrible politics and wants to inflict his opinions on everyone else.

Apparently those two things worked as his blood pressure was excellent.

You might be interested in his plans for a coronovirus pandemic. He’s serious about this. He said he’d drop off a check for at least four months rent at his landlord’s. Then he’d go camping off in the woods by himself. I guess if you don’t have contact with people, you don’t catch diseases. The guy has his gear and supplies all ready to go.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cool day for laundry

Actually, it’s a cool day, temperature wise, so we are doing laundry. What has to be done, has to be done.

At least we aren’t trying to do laundry while on a sailboat. That’s even more fun. At least we can drive to a Laundromat. I’ve seen people trying to load freshly done laundry on their dingy and have it fall into the ocean. After hauling it back and forth a mile down the road, it almost broke their heart.

Laundry is just one of those things -like chopping wood and hauling water. You could complain about it, but it still has to be done. Might as well cultivate a Zen-like calm and make the most of it.


Friday, February 21, 2020

Context is everything

There are people who’ve been living in a tent for months while bombs drop nearby. That’s life in any number of the world’s war zones. I’ve also been living in a tent for months while bombs drop nearby, but that’s because our campground is near a bombing range. For people in a war zone, their life is full of terror. I’m doing this by choice and enjoying myself.

Not only do we hear bombs drop, we’ve seen some amazing jet maneuvers. Our poor dog doesn’t like it and begs to go hide in the car. Often we humor the poor beast. She doesn’t know they aren’t coming for her.

Frankly, I’m glad they are on our side and it’s all for training. It must be absolutely terrifying when those jets are gunning for you. For many their terror is brief and comes to an abrupt end.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Boat Solar

My sailboat has a very small solar panel and a cheap charge controller. I go with cheap ones as the marine environment is tough on electronics. Expensive ones seem to fry just as easily as cheap ones -unless I buy one of the silly expensive marine units. Since it’s a cheap controller there’s no voltage meter included. Now and then I just test the voltage with a meter. That’s how I discovered the battery wasn’t taking a charge.

Chasing electrical issues on a boat is always fun. My lovely wife volunteered to climb in and help me chase wires. She fits into tight places a lot better than I do. She’s a darn fine first mate.

It took a bit of doing, but eventually the problem was traced to a corroded connection. Only then did I remember having done a quick “temporary” field repair, about 7 years ago. This time the connection was made with proper crimp connectors.

I’m glad that’s all it was. Fixing it while the boat is on the trailer is much easier than when in the water.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Down the Road

Our time at Salt Springs had come to an end. We left with no reservations lined up for our next site. In a way, it kinda feels like being homeless.

Once again, we took a chance and tried for a first come, first served site. This time it was at Juniper springs. We got there and only one site was left. It’s a good site and we are happy to be here. The place is another beautiful spring and I’ll be snorkeling sometime today.

It was only about a 20 minute drive and that’s fine with me. The less we travel, the less gas we burn and the more time we have to actually camp. We are also saving some money by staying at Federal Campsites as my lovely wife gets a half priced discount.

I have some long overdue business to do on the computer. This is as good a place as any to get that done. Of course, it’s not going to be all work and no play.

We are booked here until the end of the month. On the first of March a new company is taking over the park so we can’t stay any later later than the end of February. These parks go up for bid and you never know which company will be in charge of which campground. I think it would make sense to have Forest Rangers run the place. It would bring some much needed stability to the system. Our national lands belong to all of us and shouldn’t be set up as money making operations. They are a public trust and should be managed by the public. Just my opinion.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Like mushrooms after a rain

The primitive camping side of Salt Springs has sprouted tents like mushrooms after a rain. I’ve never seen this section so packed. The RV section, with site power and water, is always full. Here on the non-electric side it’s often fairly empty. I’ve seen as little as four sites occupied.

There are a couple of factors contributing to the popularity. The big one is the fact that it’s a long holiday weekend. Most of the people are fairly local Florida folks. Another factor is the fact that there’s a Bluegrass festival just up the road.

We will be here until Monday. The key to booking campsites is to make sure you have a place for the weekend. Many Federal campsites have a lot of first come, first serve sites. You stand a much better chance of getting those in the middle of the week. Just make sure you book through the weekend. We hope to get a site not too far down the road.

In past years we changed campsites often. Three nights at the same place seemed like a long time. That was a good way to see a lot of country in a short period of time. This time we’ve been trying to stay in one place longer. Most sites we stay at have a two week limit and we’ve maxed that out a couple places. That cuts down on the setting up, tearing down, and saves us travel expenses.

We currently still plan on being down south for a couple months yet. When it’s -26 at home we feel little desire to go back. There are things that may cause us to cut our travel short, but so far it looks good for going the distance.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Camping in two places at once

Wednesday my lovely wife and I camped at two places at once. We had plans to run up to St. Augustine to meet up with my sister-in-law. By the time we found out she couldn’t make it, we’d already booked a night at the state park.

Only one night was available. Tearing down and setting up and tearing down and setting up . . . Yeah, that gets old. Then there’s towing the boat all over the place. It’s kinda a pain at times. At that point we had a bit of a brainstorm. My lovely wife extended our stay at Salt Springs. The big tent and the boat could stay right where they were. Our little tent was fine for one night at the state park near Saint Augustine. It worked out just fine.

The current plan is to stay at Salt Springs until Monday. After that, we will be winging it again. Stay tuned to find out where we end up.

In other news, I see the coronovirus is affecting the global economy. It’s bad enough that car and computer parts are not available due to Chinese plant closings. What’s really scary is that China makes an awful lot of pharmaceuticals. If that pipeline shuts down people will be hurting. If? When?

Experts warn that this pandemic could infect up to 70% of the world’s population. That’s a scary big number, but the big question: How bad will the mortality rate be? What percentage of those people won’t recover? Interesting times.

Probably the smart thing would be to hunker down in our place in the woods. What fun would that be? Instead we are traveling all over the place, meeting interesting people. What good is an immune system if you don’t use it?


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Lake George

We launched the sailboat right from Salt Springs and took the spring run all the way to Lake George. I’m very happy we had a couple of things in order. The first is having a decent outboard. Thanks again Spud, it worked really well.

The second bit of kit that was really useful was our depth gauge. Finally got that working. The whole run to the lake we were usually in 2.5 to 3 feet of water -too shallow to let the swing keel down. In fact the entrance to the lake only had about 1.5 feet of water. That’s where some boneheaded boater decided to anchor a big pontoon boat. It was pretty tight but we make it past into the lake.

The sailing was pretty good in about 10 mph of wind. It was a really pleasant day. The trip back was made totally under sail power. The going was slow, but it was perfect for watching wildlife.

By the time we pulled the boat out and squared it away it was starting to get dark and we were exhausted. Instead of cooking dinner we went to a pizza place across from the campground.

My lovely wife and I have been doing a lot of swimming and snorkeling in the springs. That’s one of my must do things for when we are here in Florida. Sure beats dealing with the winter storms up north.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Future Travels

It’s been a good time here in the Ocala and I’m glad we’ve got a few more days in this campground. My lovely wife has booked a day in a campground near St. Augustine. The plan is to connect with her sister there. After that our plans have not been firmed up. She did come up with an interesting idea.

Her thought is for each of us, separately, to come up with travel ideas for the rest of the season. Once we’ve got them written down, we’ll compare and see how much overlap we have. Then we’ll come up with an action plan by combining everything. I’ll let you know how that works out.

This whole season we’ve been pretty much flying by the seat of our pants. There were a few things we definitely wanted to do and we’ve done them or will soon. Our ideas for next winter and the winters after that are all over the place.

One idea is to travel far and fast with a very stripped down kit. My wife’s little car gets more than twice the gas mileage of the Blazer. That would make it feasible to travel further cheaply and we’d cover a lot more ground.

Another idea would be to acquire something like an Aliner trailer for greater comfort. We almost purchased one some years ago but took the path of buying a small sailboat instead. Only one thing can be towed at at time so the Aline plan was shelved . . . but not forgotten.

Speaking of boats, that’s another option. Buying a bigger towed sailboat would make it easier for us spend time on the water, yet avoid the costs of boat storage. Then again, we’d be committed to having a vehicle large enough to tow it.

A boat too large to tow has other fixed costs, like finding a place to store it on the off-season. Then there’s the issue that larger boats have larger problems and expenses. Of course, a more capable boat opens up more distant sailing destinations. Decisions, decisions.

There are other factors influencing us. Heath issues could be one. Last year my problems kept us from going anywhere. Right how our health is pretty good and we are working to make it better. Then there are huge outside issues like the state of the country and the world.

Do we hunker down at our homestead in the woods? What kind of bug out vehicle would be best if things suddenly go south? One thing about us, we are always willing to change plans at the last minute, depending on what’s actually going on. Too many people lack flexibility.

At any rate, it’s good to have options.


Friday, February 7, 2020

Weather Event

The weather folks predicted a rough night last night -thunderstorms with high wind, rain, and possible tornadoes. We spent it in the tent and we got lucky. No tornadoes and the tent held up to the wind and rain. If there had been a tornado we were instructed to take shelter in the bathhouse as it's well built and has no windows.

Just another day of fun filled adventure.


Thursday, February 6, 2020


It was a good day. The weather got into the 80s. I finally got around to installing a transponder in the sailboat for the depth gauge. In the afternoon my lovely wife and I went snorkeling in the springs. Florida is blessed with numerous natural springs and swimming in them is always on my to do list.

My contact with the news lately has been pretty spotty. However, I see the president has been acquitted. Anyone else curious to see what the witnesses would have had to say? What are the Republican Senators trying to hide? Just wondering.

On the other side of the aisle the Democrats are in disarray. The Iowa caucus has turned into a mess with questionable results. Well, that’s the caucus system for you. NH’s primary is just around the corner. That usually brings a a reshuffling and the end to a number of campaigns.

The coronovirus continues to spread. There are some scary stories coming out of China. Tales of greater repression and hidden massive cremations of victims. This is starting to look a lot like a pandemic. Might be a good time to assess your personal response to potential issues.

On the road we don’t exactly carry a years worth of food. We have a certain amount of dehydrated meals. They don’t take up much room and are quick to prepare. One of the things we’ve been doing lately is building up our cash reserves once more. We depleted them more than we were comfortable with.

One threat you probably aren’t too aware of is the possibility of a satellites colliding with each other. Such a crash could create an expanding debris field that would then take out more satellites -and so on and so on. The odds are very high that nobody will be physically injured by the debris. However, with enough satellites down banking would be crippled. Some communication would still be possible through landlines, but at a greatly reduced volume. We’ve really become dependent on our robots in the sky.

The real threat would be to the military. They would lose their eyes in the sky. A huge amount of intelligence is gathered from above. Also, the military needs satellites for everything from communication to navigation to directing bombs.

Why am I concerned about that right now? This month there’s a higher than normal chance of collisions taking place in space.

All in all, I’d rather not deal with this stuff and go swimming.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Tear down and set up

We’ve had a busy few days. After 14 days at Alexander Springs we had to move on. Our camp got more elaborate during those weeks. Tear down took a while. Then we drove a few miles down the road and set up at Lake Dorr. People have been telling us we should check it out so we booked one night there.

Rather than go through an elaborate set up of our big tent, we pitched the small tent instead. Then we only took enough stuff out of the Blazer to get us through one night.

While there we had a pleasant surprise. A Cajun friend we made two years ago was driving around the campground and recognized us. It was great to catch up. When he has some time off he hopes to get together with us where we are camping now.

This time we set up the big tent as we expect to stay in this campground for 8 days.

One thing about towing a sailboat. It seems there’s always a fellow sailor who has to come over and talk sailing. I don’t mind that one bit. As soon as I pulled into the area where boat trailers are parked a guy literally ran across the campground to talk sailing with me.


Monday, February 3, 2020

Miracles of Miracles

I can’t believe it. The laptop that had gallons of water dumped on it appears to be working again. That has to be more a function of luck than anything else. All I did was pull the battery and flip the computer upside down overnight. Then it sat a day in the sun. Had the accident happen at home the case would have been pulled off and the innards dried off with a blow dryer. Those tools were not available out here in the campground.

One good day of sun made all the difference. Not only did the computer dry out, our solar electric battery situation is much improved. Nothing in the little refrigeration spoiled when it dropped in a low power mode.

The sun did a lot of good for my personal biological batteries too.

Today we are heading out of Alexander Springs. The plan is to stay in the Ocala for a bit longer, so we aren’t going far. We hope to meet up with my sister-in-law the same day my lovely wife gets her medications refilled. That might take a week or more to sort out.

One of my friends from up north was on the phone with me Sunday. There was a nasty cold going around back home. It was nice to miss out on that. With my damaged lungs colds linger and linger -sometimes until spring.

Still living the dream.


Sunday, February 2, 2020

. . . and then there was one

Sigh. Brownie the Sailor Dog did a clever thing. I’d just sat down at the picnic table with my larger laptop. It had booted up and was ready to go. Then the dog got excited and decided she had to chase something. Only problem, she was tied up. Her rope happened to catch the leg of the canopy we’d put over the picnic table. It had been raining so there were a few gallons of water trapped in the roof. It all came down on the laptop and me.

The cold water shocked me and then the lights on the laptop went dark. I pulled the battery and opened it up to dry, but there’s not a lot of hope. Maybe when we get home I can pull the drive and see what I can get off it. On the bright side, the vast majority of the data was backed up in cloud storage.

The funny thing is I’d just spend hours looking for the perfect laptop backpack to protect the computers. It actually did protect my second computer as it was in the new backpack and protected from the deluge.

It hasn’t been all that sunny here in Florida. They may have to change their motto if this keeps up. There hasn’t been enough sun to keep my solar powered fridge running properly. Right now we are only keeping things like butter and cheese in it. We should get more sun the next couple of days so my batteries will be charged up once again.

Good thing I’ve got three complete small solar electric systems with me. I’m down to the third one to power this computer and some essentials.

On the bright side I’m feeling good, getting in better shape, and taking off a few pounds.