Power trippin’ II, 2016

Unbelievable as it may seem to me, I have spent over three months now at our new summer home.  It has been nearly surreal.


I got up this morning and took my phone off the charger, listened to our traditional electric refrigerator humming, turned on a couple of lights, checked the bathroom and my electric toothbrush was charged up, plugged in the pump on the bird fountain, then turned on the electric kettle to get the hot water ready for my coffee and my wife’s tea.  Casually I glanced at the battery monitor to see how the batteries did overnight.  90%.  Oh, gosh, that means it might be 11:00 AM before they are back to fully charged and ‘floating.’  What ever will we do? 🙂

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The solar setup has worked beyond my fondest hopes.  Uncanny.  And, the credit for that mostly goes to Handy Bob.  If you are interested in your own off grid solar system, it is an absolute must that you go to Handy Bob’s blog https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/  and read it in its entirety.  It is the very best information you can get.  He has no agenda, other than wanting to give good information to people.  He isn’t trying to get rich.  He absolutely hates it when I tell people that if they get some good from his site, they should consider sending a donation.  So, I won’t mention it.  This system is his design, although a local solar company did the installation.

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The most amazing thing about this system, which was totally unexpected, is how well it works on cloudy days.  Since I arrived here the first part of April, we have seen some real Rocky Mountain Spring weather.  Snow, hail, rain, wind, temps down into the low 20s to the high 70s.  The ONLY time the batteries got down to the 80% area was when the panels were totally covered with snow.

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Any other time, regardless of the cloud cover, we were getting charge.  I did not expect this.
Handy Bob says this is where the Morningstar Tristar TS-MPPT-60 controller really ‘shines’ over the competition.  Many controllers on the market will work well enough with nice, high sun, but the Tristar is just plain smart.

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    I am not going to go into great detail on the components of this system, how they work, etc., but will name what I am using.  You can read some of the background why Handy Bob picked these components in his Blog.  His latest entry is “The Good Guys” and know this…..Bob does not pass on praise for a person or a Company unless they have earned it.
    Panels:  My installer somewhat insisted on using Kyocera panels, and so the system starts with the Kyocera KU265-6MCA panels.  8 in all @265W, producing 2120W.
    Inverter:  Magnum MS4448PAE  48V, 4400W.
    Solar breaker panel:  MAGNUM MMP250-30D Mini panel
    Controller:  Morningstar Tristar TS-MPPT-60 http://www.morningstarcorp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/TSMPPTdsEng.pdf tells you all you need to know, but I can attest to the fact that it works!
    Monitor:  Bogart TM-2030  Believe me, this is a necessity to make monitoring your system a breeze.  You could do it in other ways, but this system makes it easy.
    Batteries:  Crown 6CRP525.  8 of these 6V L-16 batteries wired for 48V.  Why?  Because Handy Bob told me to.  Why Crown?  Because Handy Bob says they are the best, and he spent a LOT of time looking for the best.

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There are a few other components, including lightning arrestors etc., but these are the main components.
We purchased appliances with the idea of efficiency.  Our propane range doesn’t plug in and uses D-Cell batteries for ignition.  I wasn’t aware that most propane ranges use a 500W glow bar for oven ignition.  Our refrigerator was one of the most energy efficient we could find for a decent price and a traditional refrigerator.  The washer is a front loader, using far less water and power that traditional clothes washers.  We are prudent users of water and that will be another subject.

Oh, and I did look for energy efficient TVs, too.  The one in the living room is a 50 inch LED and the one in my office/cave is a 49 inch LED.  And, yes, I fire up my surround sound in the office/cave, and don’t even limit viewing, etc.  This system will handle it!
My wife uses her blow dryer without thinking about it.  We did, of course, put in mostly LED lights everywhere.  There are a few CFLs in the mix, but those will be replaced, later.  But, LED is the only way to go, really.

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Absolutely blown away with this system.  Thanks, Handy Bob for the design and invaluable assistance, and thank the Lord for His creation and the power of the sun.  We are sunny and blessed.  (Because I never liked Cher.)

sunny and blessed

Posted in Building a mountain cabin, Health and Lifestyle, Life on the Vista, Mountain Living, mountain sex, off grid, running naked in the mountains, Solar power | Leave a comment

2015=A ‘cabin’ goes up!

When I made the annual journey to Kings Vista to enjoy another summer, I never dreamed what would unfold over the next months.  My wife and I had been thinking we wanted to find a more permanent place for our summers, with the idea we are not getting any younger, as they say, and wanting to simplify our lives.  We have looked at many places over the past year at locations nearby and some over 200 miles away.  We even went far enough to make a couple of offers which didn’t pan out.

So, we decided we would just stay put and, at least, put a nice cover over our deck, since the awning wasn’t in the greatest shape and just didn’t work when we needed it the most.  I started making inquiries around to see who might be available to build the deck cover for us.  Through the local hardware store I was introduced to the Kelly brothers, Matt and Jesse.  The Kelly brothers, along with other family members had decided to start their own company, New Creations Remodeling, a couple of years ago after working for various employers and after settling in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.

After talking with them for a while, they asked if we had considered building something.  We said we had, but weren’t sure if we could afford  it, at this time.  One thing led to another and after some discussion, we decided to have them look seriously at the potential to build something and they gave us a bid we thought was very reasonable and through mutual trust, we pulled the trigger.

We decided to build here.

Future cabin site flooded after big rains June 2015

Future cabin site flooded after big rains June 2015

And, so it begins.  I uprooted my nearby ‘camp’ and moved our 5th wheel back up the drive and to our original spot to sit out the summer there during construction.

I hated to take out any trees, but we had to take out some to make room for the septic system and access to install the tank.  It was quite a battle with the local county to get them to approve what we were going to do, since there has been quite a political battle happening, but we did finally get them to approve our plans.

So, the ground is broken and it is nearly too late to turn back now!  We decided to go with a full, walkout basement topped by one level with a big wraparound deck to enjoy our million dollar view.  aka Kings Vista.  Here are a few shots of the basement construction.

New Creations recommended the Fox Blocks for constructing the basement.  The concrete pouring was a little tricky because access was limited and a pump truck had to be utilized.  The end result was wonderful.  We just visited this week and the weather was cold with a wind chill less than 20 degrees.  We were amazed at how warm it was inside the basement with absolutely no heat.

The partitioning in the basement is in progress, and preparations begin for the main floor.  Since there will be no well, we will be using a 1200 gallon basement cistern for our water supply.  Below you see it loaded on the trailer and putting it in place before building any walls.

We hope it never has to come out, because it would have to be in pieces!

The floor joists were built across and the main floor is in place.  Above LH corner, Chris inspects the work.  Above RH Matt Kelly and his lovely wife Kate pose standing on the main floor.  On the lower LH and RH pictures, Matt and brother Jesse survey their work.  These guys take amazing pride in their work.  Wonderful, Christian young men.

Framing has begun for the main floor and the roof trusses are going into place.  No crane was used in construction.  Just a lot of sweat and effort to get the roof trusses up along with building materials.

Things are beginning to take shape with the main floor enclosed and the roof panels in place.  These guys have been fearless and dedicated to every detail.

The deck starts to take shape.

The metal roofing was an extraordinary effort on the part of New Creations Remodeling, but, as with everything else, they did a superb job of designing and covering their custom work.

The deck was built with Douglas Fir and is absolutely beautiful.  Note all the intricate finishing touches done by these amazing builders.

We decided on a stucco exterior and New Creations Remodeling did all the exterior stucco work, along with custom designing the gable, gable extension, and front look.  Essentially they did everything but the plumbing and electrical, which were subcontracted.

I will elaborate on the solar more, later, but wanted to show the installed panels (we subcontracted the solar, but New Creations installed the panels and built the custom box to house the batteries in the basement.

And, now, some 5 months after we broke ground, things are nearly complete.  When Spring gets here, we will have much to do to get things ready, but hopefully we will get it done and get our first summer.  Since this blog is dedicated to off grid living, I will add some chapters on that, when we get there.  We will need to get an efficient refrigerator, an efficient propane stove, and an efficient clothes washer.  We haven’t addressed heat, yet, but are plumbed with the ability to put in an efficient propane heater or two, for those times when it gets chilly in the summer, which can happen.  Much to be done, but we couldn’t be happier with the work done by these amazing young men of New Creations Remodeling.  Matt, Jesse, Chris, Alex, and Clayton.  I will be happy to furnish their contact information if anyone is interested.

Posted in Boondocking, Boondocking water management, Building a mountain cabin, Health and Lifestyle, Life on the Vista, Solar power, Uncategorized, Views | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Driving me crazy!!

Sticker: 'How's my driving you nuts?'

Sticker: ‘How’s my driving you nuts?’

Before I start into this, I want to make it clear that I do not believe I am the perfect driver. I don’t know that there is such a thing.

However, I don’t believe I am one of the following….or, at least rarely!  These people “drive” me crazy: (not necessarily in this order, and in the spirit of not picking on any particular demographic, I will try to mixup the names with different genders and ethnicities. I do think that there are particular subgroups who are the worst drivers, but will leave that. For now.)

1. Tailgating Terry. OK, Terry….you are dangerous. An accident waiting to happen. It is very simple if you can count two seconds….one one thousand, two one thousand. Check out a checkpoint perpendicular to the driver in front of you and count at LEAST two seconds until your vehicle passes that point. Three, better, four, best. When you are too close, Terry….I WILL slam on my brakes if you stay there too long, to hopefully wake you up a bit or shake you out of your stupidity. Yes, I know, that is a little immature, but some people need a wake up. I absolutely loathe tailgaters. I am only guilty of this in the case of number 2, but I aspire to never be guilty.

tailgater

2. Left Lane Lucy. Aaaarghhh…..I do NOT love this Lucy! Lucy drives in the passing lane, no matter what. Lucy will drive at exactly the same speed as the vehicle on her right and block anyone wishing to pass. Perhaps Lucy always wanted to have some power in her life and this is how she attains it by blocking anyone who she thinks might be going too fast. She doesn’t care if she is creating a hazard, because she is in control. I can admit to wishing I had a locomotive-style cow catcher on the front of my vehicle to run her off the road. Pass or get over!

'Unless you're going to pass, get the hell out of the left lane!'

‘Unless you’re going to pass, get the hell out of the left lane!’

3. Texting Tex. None of us should ever text and drive. Very dangerous….possibly as much as driving under the influence. Texting is for long stop lights, but please keep an eye on the light and go when it turns green, Tex.

texting2

4.  Loco Lakeesha.  Lakeesha hates to be behind anyone…..in any situation.  She will pass on the right, cut off the vehicle in front of her, criss cross, trying to pass anyone and everyone when traffic conditions are so busy that she will go nowhere.  She doesn’t care she is just going to find a way to get in front of SOMEBODY, even if she can go nowhere.  If I had my way, she would be no-license-Lakeesha.

crazy

5.  Whacky Juan.  Juan thinks he can get to his destination faster if he races from stoplight to stoplight.  Even when he sees the red light ahead and several cars waiting, he keeps his speed, then brakes at the very last second.  Dude……you are going to hit someone, someday.  Start slowing down and brake to a nice restful stop.  I guarantee you will get there just as fast.

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6.  Dan the drunk.  We all know about this one.  Drinking and driving is lethal.  Period.

7.  Stoned Stephanie.  See #6.

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8.  Blythe the Blocker.  Blythe likes to see how much traffic she can stack up behind her.  She drives 50 in a 65 when passing isn’t possible.  Then, a passing lane opens up…and so does Blythe….speeding up to try and keep anyone from passing.  Then, back to the no passing zone, she slows down, again.  It is a good thing I am unaware of a device which would remotely blow out her tires, or I would own one.  There is no excuse for this, in my book.

Passing lane ahead - slower traffic speed up.

Passing lane ahead – slower traffic speed up.

9.  No signal Nancy.  I know it takes an amazing amount of hand-eye coordination to be able to signal with your fingers while trying to figure out how to turn the wheel, Nancy, but if you are going to turn, please let me know….and mean it!!

'The turn-signal was on when I bought the car!'

‘The turn-signal was on when I bought the car!’

How about you?  Can you think of anyone I missed?

Posted in driving, frustrations, insanity, sex | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

More power to you! Kings Vista 2015

A new summer at our idyllic getaway.  In a previous post I talked about solar power.  This year, given the lower cost of solar panels, we decided to add a couple of hundred watts to our existing system.  I ordered these two-100W panels from Windy Nation at a cost of about $225.  Very cheap compared to former prices.  Somehow I managed to wrestle this box with the panels on top of our RV.

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Hmmmm…..ok, what do I do now?

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OK, I guess the first thing to do would be to lay them out and find a good location……This might work?

20150531_095816Well, I don’t like that little shadow on there…that can kill a panel’s power, but the sun is still low, maybe it won’t matter, during the middle of these summer days.  I can give it a natural tilt there, to let the rain run off.  I will look around a bit.

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There….I feel so much more organized now, and will put one at the front and the other back there behind that mess of tools and stuff.

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OK…Handy Bob told me he had made room inside this junction box to add more panels, later if I wanted.  Smart guy.  It looks like the positive wires go on the left side and the negative on the right…..I can do this.

(At this time, I did go down and disconnect the controller to the batteries.  I don’t need to be shorting anything including my own shorts.)

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Well, with a little drilling and holding my tongue just right, the panels are now connected in the junction box.  (I carefully drilled the holes and will caulk later)

Back down, I held my breath and re-connected the power to the batteries……20150531_144106

YES!!!  The Trimetric says 25.4A, with climbing voltage!!  I haven’t seen THOSE numbers before!

As a follow-up today, my first full day with the additional panels was a mostly sunny day, and I started the morning at around 87%, and by noon, I had completely charged batteries….14.8V!!!!  Thank you, once again, Handy Bob, for sharing all your knowledge and encouraging me along the way.   Also….at 5:30 PM, I had the TV going, charging my phone etc., and was STILL getting positive charge.  I am one happy camper!

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Posted in Boondocking, Health and Lifestyle, Life on the Vista, running naked in the mountains, rv boondocking, rving off the grid, Solar power | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life can be the Pits or just ‘rott’en.

OK, supposedly a “misotherist” is someone who hates animals.  I don’t hate animals.  There may be a good word for dog hater, but I couldn’t find it.  I am not a dog hater.  On the dog scale if a “1” means you would eliminate all dogs from the planet and 10 means you adore dogs to the point that you would sacrifice human life for them, risk your own life on a busy highway to rescue a dog, then, I would put myself about a 5.

bunch of dogs

A while back we gave away our little dog to a family with a young boy and it was win-win, for both Buddy (our dog) and the little boy.  They fell in love with each other and it was bittersweet for us because we really loved Buddy.  But, we realized that he needed more attention than we were able to give because his energy was insatiable….too much for old people.  And, we also knew that he might be in harm’s way on our summer domicile unless we penned him up, and we did not want to do that.  But, he really thought he could take on a coyote if he had to and perhaps he suffered a bit from LDS.  (Little Dog Syndrome, and my apologies that those letters also belong to a church loved by family and friends.)
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At any rate, we decided to find him a good home and the reports have been wonderful as we have kept up with him.  We could NOT have taken him to a shelter or anything else.

dog in shelter

So, the point is, I can love a dog, for sure.  Briefly, we had another dog, Josie, whom we adopted while we were traveling the Country in our RV, fulltime. We had to put her down after we had her for about a year and it was very sad, because she was a really sweet dog.  (We were told she was about 8 when we adopoted her, and we found out, later she was about 12.)

OK, having said ALL that, I have to address…..Pits and Rotts, mostly.  Check the statistics, from various sources and it is a FACT that Pit Bulls are especially dangerous.  Rottweilers, too.  http://www.dogsbite.org/

pit 1

rott 1

And, sure there are other breeds, but these are the main culprits.

ALL dogs will bite, somehow, some way, in their lifetime.  It might be just a nip, it might be totally accidental, but in many cases it is just INSTINCTIVE.  Our little Buddy who might have weighed 8 pounds, would grab his toy, when it was thrown, and ferociously KILL IT!  Animal instinct.  Built in.  And, I say again, that Buddy was SWEET.  He bit my wife, once, playing….no malice intended.  It just happens.  Dogs bite.  Period.

dog biting 2

OK, so dogs bite…do Pits and Rotts bite more than other species?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that when they DO, there is a really good chance they will do some damage with their incredible strength.  Some of the sweetest, most lovable Pit Bulls have killed their owners.  Heck, have you ever been in a bad mood and felt like you could throttle someone?  But, you didn’t, because you thought it through, considered prison, what your children might think, considered the moral aspects, and didn’t follow through.  I don’t think animals always have a chance to think these things through.  They REACT.

dog biting

I am always amazed at how dog lovers will ALWAYS come to the defense of dogs after fatal attacks.  There are documented cases where dogs have killed infants in a home and the owners didn’t want the dog put down!!!  Are you kidding me?  When I hear someone say, “Oh, he has never bitten, anyone.”  If they are talking about their dog and not their spouse, this makes me especially leery. It means the odds are it might happen soon.

dog doesn't bite

When I was working, on the road, one of the things I did for a while was safety surveying Natural Gas lines.  The job involved going into a LOT of yards, many gated back yards.  I was one of the few I knew on our crews who didn’t get bit by a dog, at some point.  I DID have some really close calls, however.  I witnessed a LOT of different dogs in different situations.  I have to say that in some neighborhoods it was like a wave in a sports stadium.  The barking would just follow me as I went up and down the street.  The endless barking was deafening in some places.  We couldn’t wear ear protection or headphones, because we had to listen to our instrument. Aaaarghhhh. I worked with one dog lover who used to laugh at my caution when it came to dogs.  He wasn’t afraid and was derisive regarding the fact that I wouldn’t enter some yards, if an apparently vicious dog was in there.  Yep, he got bit.  Badly.

dog chases postman

If a dog has incredible strength, as Pit Bulls do, then you might as well play with a loaded .45 every day.  Sure, put it on safety, and that gun has NEVER killed anyone or even gone off, accidentally.  So, should be fine, right?  A lot of little dogs are much more ferocious, mean, and troublesome.  BUT, they aren’t gonna kill ya!!!

mean chihuaua

Yes, I would eliminate the Pit Bull and Rottweiler species if I had the power.  Does this make me a lot of new friends in the dog lover communities?  Nope.  But, please, if you own a Pit, or other powerful animal….please be careful and NEVER leave that animal with a small child, unattended, EVER. Or, anyone else in your family, if you care about them. Please. Maybe you love the dog more than the rest of the family.

pit with baby

Posted in babies, Dogs, pets, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Safety, slaughter | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

From the cave

My good friend Bob Badger has been “Badgering” me to post more on my blog.  I mentioned to him, yesterday, that my Blog was centered around living off the grid in the summer months and it seemed I had saturated that topic.  My good friend indicated it might be time to add to this, and rather than “branching” I have had a Facebook theme “From the Cave” which I have used to express my opinions on many topics, mostly political, to some degree or another.   Some shy away from expressing “political” opinions…..well, not this kid.

ram uncle sam

As you can see from the image below, this is where I do most of my good thinking during the non-summer months.  That is I, in the foreground, with the laptop closed.  The faint image you see is the Plasma “at rest” ready to soon burst forth with visual images of Vikings and Saxons at war with swords clashing and blood gushing…..all in the hope that I can forget the ‘real world’ for a while.  Yes, it IS a cave.

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Just to tell you what is in store, let me give you a short list of some things I hate and about which I love to rant, at times.  This will tell you whether you want to check back, or not.  And, please, if you just can’t stand it, but came here in hopes of finding out SOMETHING about living off the grid, then check out some of my earlier posts and don’t ever hesitate to ASK, because I am happy to share.  oooooohhhhh speaking of off grid, I did just order (thanks HandyBob) a couple more solar panels for the summer.  I ordered them from WindyNation.com  and their service is superb!  I ordered a couple of hundred watters plus some mounting z brackets to supplement our existing system.  Now back to my hate list:  Hillary, Barry, Harry, Nancy, head the list along with the vast majority of the other members of Congress.  We need term limits, people!  If we do NOT get term limits the future generations will have nothing decent in their future.

illegals

Yes, these criminal trespassers will be on the hit list.  Future Democratic voters and there are probably some good people in that line for which we should make a doable path to LEGAL status AFTER they go back and start over!  Uh, oh, too early for the ranting, I don’t want to drive everyone away, but let’s see how this goes.  See ya later….time to watch some Vikings!

Posted in Boondocking, cave man diet, conservative, Health and Lifestyle, liberals, politics, rv boondocking, sex and the cave man, Solar power | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kings Vista 2014

image[1]First step, pick up the water trailer from storage, go load some water from the local water place (great guys, I tell you), then transport to the Vista.  Here I am backing the trailer down one drive to pull up through the “other” drive where I park the trailer.  Not not much in the background except the deck waiting for the home to arrive.

image_4[1]OK, the water supply is in place, let’s go get the home.

image_5[1]OK, all hooked up and ready to transport back up on top of the Vista.  This home weighs approximately 14K, as it sits…lightened as much as possible.  If you could see the hill I need to take it up with this 14-year-old 4×2 truck….but, I have already checked out one access road and it is pretty smooth, so we can get a nice run at it!  (reminder to self…stop by the local KOA and use their dump station to clean the anti-freeze out of the lines…)

image_10[1]Whew…..nice run!  We made it and NOW…..all on my own this year without a “flagger” we will see if we can get it into place.

image_11[1]Let’s see…..between the trees on this side….and…..

image_12[1]…..the trees on this side…….image_14[1]Easy does it….we can do this!image_19[1]Whew….just get lined up perfectly…..then the work starts….checking level, unhooking, raising the front just right to allow to get up level front to rear which has an appreciable difference in elevation…..almost there.  It is a lot of work!

image_20[1]YEA!  It is there, it is level, it is stable……  And, of course, now all the inside has to be cleaned up, gotten ready, put water in, check solar settings, etc etc etc I could put a hundred more pics of all it takes, but you get the ideas…wow, is it worth it?photoYES!  It IS worth it!  Have a great summer, everyone!

Posted in Boondocking, Boondocking water management, Health and Lifestyle, Life on the Vista, mountain sex, rv boondocking, rving off the grid, Solar power, Views | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments