Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Day at Big Bend

Haven't been on internet for a couple days (earth shakes and eyes roll).

Refilling water in Wissonsin Bill's Casita

Our first day here we settled in walking around exploring the campground.  I met our next door neighbors, retiree Bill from Arkansas, a seven-time visitor here for 14 days.  He and his wife live in their travel trailer pulled by a 3/4 ton truck as so many others.   After their 14 day stay, they head west to Arizona for a while then maybe up to Oregon. Across the road is Bill from Wisconsin who, with his wife, just purchased a little Casita trailer direct from the manufacturer and are traveling further down towards the southern tip of Texas for a few weeks.  Wisconsin Bill, as I have tagged him, introduces me to Missy, his border collie.  Arkansas Bill has an interesting rig in his truck which enables him to store and transfer water and waste to and from his trailer.  2-30 gallon plastic containers lashed on either side of the back of his pickup.  One for water and one for waste.  He has a little pump for the water and on his trailer has a macerator pump on the waste line.  He pumps out the grey water from trailer into the waste container, drives over to the dump station and empties out the waste, then fills up the water container with fresh water, drives back over and pumps it into his trailer.  I photographed Casita Bill filling up his water tank using Arkansas Bill's rig here while he described the whole process.  Fascinating rig.  

This is our first experience without electric and water hookups for an extended period of time. Since our motorhome is a bit more mobile, we can just pull up stakes, (or levelers), drive over to the dump station, exchange waste for fresh water, drive back and put down the levelers.  All in about an hour.  We estimate we can last 5-7 days with careful water usage even with taking brief rinse-off showers, and I need my daily shower.  This beats the heat-water-transfer-to-bucket-haul-bucket-to-washroom-washup-dump-drain routine we used to do when tent camping. 

We had been in campground without water/waste hookups before but not electrical and we have overnighted (Amboy Crater last November) so this will tell us a lot about our usage of electricity.  We can run the generator to recharge the batteries,etc during the hours of 8AM-8PM and many people do in the evenings, however, we are experimenting with conserving electricity using only the bare minimum.  The motorhome has propane for heat and refrigeration so our fridge is fine.  We filled up with propane in El Paso and the weather is warm enough to not have to use the heater much which also conserves our batteries.  

Promise of rain far far away
Last week it rained 3 times totalling over an inch.  first rain in 19 months.  Normally rainfall is 15 inches per year.  Right now dry as is all of Texas.

We had purchased a little solar powered battery/lamp rig from Costco call "GoalZero" which we had used while tent camping a couple times for lighting.  The battery can be charged from 110v (which we did in Tucson in preparation for this trip), or from 12v outlet in the RV or car, or by 2 little solar panels which we intend to try here tomorrow.  Last night we hooked up the lamps to the battery and hung them inside the RV for lighting while preparing and eating dinner.  I also re-charged my computer as the battery case has 110v inverter as well as USB outlet for iPod/iphone.  Worked great and only use 1/4 of the charge.  Only downside was all these little huge which snuck into the RV and gathered around the lights.  No mosquitoes this time of year but lots of little insects which is great for birds and birders but not when you are trying to read.

We also had purchased 3 little LED lights which use AAA batteries and hung them underneath cabinets in kitchen and bathroom giving us some soft yet bright lights that don't use the house batteries.  Along with our headlamps and little flashlights, these work great at night for getting around in the dark.  

We are taking baby steps here and the interest of boondocking grows as we gain experience in the limitations of the RV systems.  This will give us more flexibility in where we stay and for how long.

We will continue to experiment and learn.  Big Bend is growing on us. Update - 3 days of not running the generator.  We ran it this morning for 2 hours while we headed over to the hot springs.  Recharged the house batteries and the little portable battery.  my laptop didn't recharge fully.  Also made toast and Sraddha used hair drier.  Now back to power conservation for next 3 days.  Water and waste holding up so far.
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