Tuesday, April 8, 2014

January - March, 2014 - No Snow!

Would saying it's been awhile be too much of an understatement?

We've been a little busier than usual this year.  We hit the road on January 2 to head south for the winter (once more).  We gave the Cherokee to a daughter and SIL because it had so many miles on it and we wanted something larger for our road trips so we bought a Ford Expedition from one of our sons.  He purchases them (usually not in running condition), gets them running and sells them again.  This one was too good to pass up.  It's definitely a dream to travel in with electric everything, comfortable (heated or cooled) leather seats and individual climate control for each seat.  It has a built in DVD player which Scott adores. 

But despite the comfort it's still nice to be "home" again.  Scott was so tired of travelling he began asking to go "home" several hours  before we reached our destination in Overton.  As soon as he saw the motorhome he relaxed and simply said "home."  Here he's curled up on the couch with the cat beside him.  We spent a few days at the Overton Wildlife Management Area before heading farther south to the Boulder Beach Campground.
We volunteered to work for the Park Service for awhile and in return for 20 hours a week of labor they paid the fees for the camping site.  We spent a few weeks at the campground, doing volunteer work then headed for Stewart's Point.  We liked the work but were tired of living in a "parking lot."

Scott appears to be quite comfortable sitting on the ball while watching a DVD on the television.
The trip to Stewart's Point was uneventful but once we got here the transmission went out on the car.  We were without transportation for a few weeks until our son and DIL brought down another vehicle for us to drive and trailered the Expedition back home with them.  They spent about a week with us before going back home. 
In the meantime another daughter and SIL came down with their camper to spend a few weeks here vacationing. 

We needed some boards to level the motorhome so I bought a couple of long 2X8's and Scott and I cut them down to size.  This is at the Boulder Beach Campground.  Note the bare feet, short sleeves, sunshine, and NO SNOW!

We took the Expedition on a road trip to visit a friend in AZ then went up to the Grand Canyon.  On the way we made some side trips.  We're working on a prepper book to counteract some of the nonsense from televised shows like Doomsday Preppers and wanted to do some research and take some photos of ancient Indian dwellings.  This is Montezuma's Castle.

Scott was in charge of security so he brought his rocket along.

This is at Walnut Canyon with dwellings built into the mountainside caves.  It was really impressive.  You have to wonder what kind of leg muscles those people had after climbing up and down all day long.

This is Wapatki and another example of ancient life on high mountain plateaus.

Now we're at the Grand Canyon.  It was an overcast day so the colors are washed out a bunch.  Photos do not do justice to what you see.  The canyon is so deep, wide and colorful that film can't begin to capture it's grandeur.
It too has some great American Indian history.  The Havasu lived in the bottom of the canyon during the hot summers, growing their gardens.  In the winter they lived on the plateau on top, hunting and supplementing their summer crops with meat.

This is back At Stewart's Point.  Scott is enjoying a little "splash time" in the lake.  If you stay in the shallow water it's nice and warm!  His "boat" has leg holes in it so he's basically wading in the water.

As usual we're using our solar cooker for everything from food preparation to heating hot water for washing dishes.

Another side trip to do some rock climbing/exploring.

Scott loves playing in the caves of all sizes.

While our daughter and her children were here we spent a Saturday at the atlatl competition.  The park service had extra atlatls and darts for use by visitors so we got to try out several different types of throwers and different types/lengths of darts.  As usual there was a pretty stiff wind that day but we all had a great time.  Afterwards we drove over to see Moose's Tank and let the kids do some climbing around.

We put up the wind generator this year.  We bought 20 feet of steel pipe then sawed off a six foot section of one.  That will put the generator about six feet above the motorhome roof.

I ran the wires through the pipe then installed the wind turbine.  This is a Whisper Quiet 400 watt unit.  We brought two, 165 watt panels with us.  I'll permanently install them on the roof next year.  We thought about making mounts to keep them on the ground so we could turn them to the sun easier but after cleaning them off several times after Scott rubbed mud on them (he was making mud while playing in the water and clay) we decided that the roof would be the best place for them!

There was a Navy plane landing and taking off on the water so Susan and Scott got on the roof for a better look.

This is the charge controller for the solar panels and the inverter to power the 110 volt electricity in the camper.  We're running an electric refrigerator since the propane unit didn't work and it's cheaper to replace it with an electric one.  We don't have to buy as much propane either when we're away from electric hookups (which is most of the time!).  There's a 25 amp "smart charger" at the left of the charge controller.  In the lower shelf there are four golf cart batteries which are connected to another 12 volt deep cycle battery in the original battery compartment.  We've never even come close to running out of power this winter.  We are going to upgrade to a larger inverter next winter.  This one is only a thousand watts.  We want two thousand watts minimum.

The battery went dead on the Expedition while it was sitting so I took it out and wired it to the output on the wind generator.  That was in the afternoon on a windy day.  By morning it was fully charged and ready to go again.

While we were between visits from our kids and without motorized transportation we made several trip into Overton on our bicycles.  Susan usually had Scott on the bike seat and I took along the trailer behind my bike.  It's 34 miles round trip with a couple of very steep, long grades and is quite a workout.  We ordered some gas motors for the bicycles but I can't put it on hers (bike frame is too small).  This is my bike with the motor.  We've used it for trash runs and short trips but haven't taken it to Overton yet.
I've been using some of my VA medical benefits while in Nevada.  It's easier here than in Montana because it's over 300 miles to the nearest VA hospital in MT.  It's my first time using the VA and while the service I get is good the wait times are unbelievably long.  Most of it will just have to wait until we're back next winter.

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