Friday, December 19, 2014

Cheap Energy Rant-Guest Post

I couldn't help but share this post from Facebook. Especially during this busy, cold time of year when many of us are rushing around, preparing for the holidays, it helps to take a breath and realize what our high strung life styles actually cost.
Let me know what you think.

I see a lot of rants on Facebook and elsewhere about Shale Oil, Fracking, "bleeding the earth", and on and on. I don't think a lot of us realize to what degree we all depend on relatively cheap energy, and to what extent it provides our American lifestyle. And this is just as true for a tree hugger on our West Coast, an Oil Worker in the Gulf of Mexico or a Fracking protester in New York. Think about this ....
1) Do you drive a car? Use a gas mower? No .... ok, have you ever flown in an airplane or taken a train run by diesel? Have you ever been on a motorized boat?
2) Do you use anything or own anything made of plastic?
3) If the US had no trucking industry (which depends on affordable fuel) what would prices at the grocery store be for those Vegan salads? Could you even get supplies you want at the Grocery store?
4) How much human pain and suffering would be caused by the US economy cratering if there were no fossil fuels? You really think Wind and Solar can ever make up the energy gap created if suddenly we just quit using fossil fuel? Think again.
5) Scientists say we maybe have influenced global temperatures upwards by possibly 2 deg in the last century. Should Yellowstone ever erupt (heaven forbid) global temperatures will DROP 10 degrees immediately and the effect will last at least 2 years (now that's a disaster). All major global warming models and predictions have been WAY off compared to the actual the fear that fossil fuels are killing the planet is just a bit overstated.
So ... a rant for a rant. I doubt any of us will change our opinions, but let's just try to be honest with ourselves and look around and see what is really happening.

written and posted on Facebook, by my dear friend Richard James Rynearson

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Cost of Heat

As gas prices go down, one might hope propane will follow.

Yesterday afternoon, the family tested driving the Home down to a local purveyor of propane. I had fished the two sets of seat belts out from under the folding couch so that all could ride securely buckled. It was a telling event. Three children and three adults rode comfortably while a few random items jostled off the walls and onto the floor, but it was a sunny, cheerful expedition.

My son in law pulled into the parking lot, expertly made his way between tight spaces and pulled up alongside the huge tank of propane, and parked.
I jumped out the one door, ready to learn and supervise the refilling of my home's heating fuel.
Price= 17 gallons x $3.02 per gallon.
Not bad, not bad at all.

Last tank lasted one month after a glutenous heat splurge in record cold, dropping below negative two several nights in a row. But then, I had slept in the house a week, while house sitting, so, one can not guage last month's consumption accurately. This tank will be closely supervised, the thermostat turned off completely at night. Meagerly, miserly, I'm going to see if this tank can't last a month, too.

Its not the cost so much as putting everything away and driving for a refuel, though I imagine the rig should be driven once a month anyways.
I've added Staybil to the gas tank which is half full, check. I do have shore power, check. The various shades and curtains are opened and closed daily to take advantage of solar heating, check.

The learning curve continues.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Photos and Youtube Video from Gila

My savvy friend makes the Dakota fire pit extra large in order to reinforce the walls with rock while I quickly build a lean-to in driving rain, gather leaves and sufficient firewood to last the night. 

Sorry for the water spots on the lense.

Follow this link :Gila Survival Training if the embedded youtube video is chopped off, as sometimes occurs. There's a lot of talking and explanation on this adventure.

Thanks for your patience with my sometimes blurry, jerky work. I'm always learning.
Happy trails.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Survival Skills in the Gila

On a recent trip to the Gila Wilderness, I spent three days camping at Gila Hot Springs, just a stone's throw from Doc Campbell s, icon of the Continental Divide Trail's rugged experience. When I gave him a twenty to purchase a 12 ounce bottle of orange juice, he grumbled, "Don't you have anything smaller?"
"Nope," I said, "Sorry."
Begrudgingly he took the twenty, charged me 2.25 for the juice, and counted out three fives, two ones, and three quarters.

Truth was, I needed the bottle. It would fit in my jacket pocket.
So, the point of the trip was to hang out with a friend, try some survival techniques, and perhaps scout some free camping for my new motor home.

Photos and video to follow, but bottom line, the Dakota fire pit built at Apache Creek, centrally placed under a huge tarp, worked pretty sweet at base-camp in driving rain. The holes in said tarp provided a funnel effect to collect water.  Gallons of water were collected in less than an hour.
We tested heating rocks in a blazing fire, placing them in a large kettle and bringing the sealed kettle into the tent. Although you could smell some ash, the radiating heat was quite welcome and lasted until 3 a.m.
Similarly, a large rock was heated to unbearable temps, wrapped in a flannel shirt and slid into the sleeping bag. It maintained heat until 6 a.m.
At the hot springs, I used a water bottle filled with the 160 degree water. Made a huge difference as temperatures dropped 40 degrees overnight resulting in sub-freezing temps.

By scouting the free campground at Apache Creek, off highway 12, we were able to see pictographs, Mexican Wolf ravaged carcass, pueblo ruins and ascertain the viability of lean-to shelter building beneath a massive Ponderosa Pine. A small herd of javalina hogs provided fresh sign.

I learned too, that silence is golden and if you're going to bother talking, make it meaningful. Skip the angry swearing and baby talk. Aggravating as hell.

The Hot Springs is privately owned and costs $5 a day per person, comes with 160 degree potable water rushing from a spout and three separate, immaculately maintained 'tubs'. Those few campers utilizing it like we were also were as gypsies, not certain of where the road would take them. A 40 foot blue bus was among the most interesting campers, and gave me courage to bring my 34 foot rig along those winding roads, should I decide to drive, rather than fly, next time.

Again, once I get home, I'll download photos from camera to web.
Minimalism plays a huge part in maintaining sanity among the traveler. Frost and dew fell heavily, making drying gear a process of stringing up lines. The River added to unexpected moisture there in sub-desert climes.

And like us, everyone staying at this campground had a story to share, one filled with lessons and smiles. I found there was a lot to learn, just listening, and keeping my eyes open.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Great Job Resourse

I've discovered a great way to find outdoor jobs. Check out for a searchable data base of all sorts of opportunities, including Ranger, Visitor center, apprentice positions, nurse, maintenance and patrols.

The wage scale is listed along with prerequisites, and you can even upload resumes, create a job search and save a profile making additional applications much easier than starting from scratch everytime.

In the effort to find suitable work in an outdoor field, I'm keeping options open, even willing to relocate for the wonderful job.

I was surprised to note that many of the positions allowed the applicant to have field experience in lieu of a college degree. This is a good thing in my books. Some of us have lots of real life experience but were never able to attend or afford college.

For seasonal workers who might be looking for something full time or a little different, or, even with perks, check it out.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Thrift Stores Vs. Discount Boxes

In my effort to outfit my new home (motor-home) I've come across a lot of deals and come to this conclusion.

Sometimes you just need to buy a brand name.
Take for instance the dollar store broom I bought. On the first sweep, the blue plastic bristles started flying out. Seriously, I asked myself, not even one sweep and the very reason for the item is lost.

Ok, next conclusion. Not all hangers are created equal. See those 8 for a dollar deals? Take care, one wrong twist and the hook is gone. Humm. Easy does it in the closet.

So last night I braved, for the first time ever, the Black Friday Sales, only, you're right, it was a Pre-Black Friday sale, at Walmart, named the First event which began at 6 p.m.
After spending the day writing my summer memoirs, I was ready for some action.

Action I got. All I wanted was some $1.99 DVDs, or at the least, a look at the selection. After all, its a dollar and gas to go rent one via Red Box, and sure I could stream, if there's streaming capabilities. .
Back to my story.
Ten minutes to six, thinking I'm early, I pull in the parking lot. Everyone in town is there. I kid you not. Where is a gal supposed to park?
Aha, in the back 40 is a spot, big enough for the Geo. Park, one last sip of coffee, lock doors, head out.
Two police cars are parked at the store, yellow tape cordoning off various approaches. Dude, what'sup with this??

Ok, deep breath, check my wallet, and phone, yes, still there, safely installed in my jacket pockets.
Once inside, we're given cheat sheets as they pull back the plastic from bins of STUFF. "Dvds?" I ask. "This is my first time to a Black Friday event."
"Mine too," the employee replies, "and I'm working it. Dvds are in Produce," and she points the way, clear across the store. "Good luck."

If I'd know then what I do now, I would have retreated outside and approached Produce from the other entry. But no, I've grabbed a cart and start making my way, through the maze of intent bargain hunters, wall to wall carts, garage size bins of bargains, bodies, kids, STUFF.
A deep swallow later, and I'm at last past Shoes, heading towards the baby aisle, where yellow tape prevents me from approaching Food.
Now what?
Its like abandoning your car in a traffic jam, but frustrated, I ditch my cart in a blocked off aisle and weave my way. No one can stop me now. I smell fruit!.
Movies, I'll just settle for a few movies, though originally I'd hoped to buy a few incidentals like toothpaste and popcorn.

"You can't go there," a woman calls. I spin around, "I just want to buy some movies but I'm about to bail."
"Ok, you have to go back towards Milk."
"Wait, wait, I can't get through there."
"Alright, hurry, get on up there," and points, unable to leave her station.
Walking swiftly, I see my goal where masses are bending to check titles and call home seeing if thats a keeper.
I pass between two employee guards, nodding, "I just want some dvds."
"Right this way."
Over my shoulder a customer says, "Only ten." apparently to a child mesmerized by Angry Birds and Curious George.
At last. My quest in view, various cardboard shelving with DVDs. Green dots are $1.99. Yellow, $3.96. Red and blue, more.

I found my movies, eight all told, all real copies, no bootleg reproductions. Among them : Grudge Fight, Gladiator, Forest Gump and Flight.
Award winners. Movies I can enjoy more than once.

Now, to the taped areas allowing me to pay for the choices. Fifteen minutes later, I'm back in my car, heading home. I'll eat some trail mix. Forget the popcorn.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Home Aspects

So after the motor part of the RV is under control so that you can actually get this thing on the open road, legally motoring down the highway, there's the longer than expected list that makes this box on wheels home.

Here's a list of the things I've bought so far, from kitchen to basement. Of course I owned a couple items, which I list first:

books, dvds, pens and paper
black milk crate that served as the book shelf
a mug
a plate
a backpacker's cook-set
a quilt and fleece throw
hand weights
hand tools (basic repair kits in car)

Items bought so far:
coat hangers
sheets and pillows
bedding set
throw rugs
waste can
scrub bucket
dish soap and scrubbies
sauce pan with lid
saute pan
stove lighter
8 forks
4 butter knives
4 teaspoons
4 tablespoons
paper plates
serving tray
cookie sheets that fit the smaller oven
baking pan
large mixing bowl
pot holders
towels, bath and kitchen

As you can see, most things are kitchen related and alot can be found at thrift stores. However, I've noticed, you can get better deals at discount stores like Walmart. I went fairly cheap and can upgrade as time passes.

As I talk to various friends about my need for this personal space versus living with others, I find most are very supportive. Yet once I was accused of having 'baggage' . I've been thinking about that and conclude, as I get older, maybe this so called baggage is actually wisdom. There comes a  time in life when we've been there and done that enough times to shy from the flame. Is that baggage, or wisdom? I'd like to hear your thoughts.