Resources for the Bus-House

Wednesday, August 13, 2008 -- near Beaver Dam, Wisconsin

While we're parked out at the farm near Beaver Dam or at Camp Soldner in the U.P. of Michigan, we ocassionally have to pack up and drive the bus-house to some nearby campground to dump our waste tanks. In both cases, we do have access to some limited electric power and can stretch hoses about 150 feet to fill the fresh-water tank, but there's no place to dump tanks.

A while back I wrote this piece about our ability to live independently of outside resources. I thought I'd revive it now:

The bus-house, like a regular "fixed" house, relies on certain resources from the outside world. Among these are fresh-water, sewer, electric power, and propane. There are others... phone, internet, television, radio... but these are all wireless and don't limit the length of our stay.

Of the big four, the addition of a solar array on the roof earlier this year has been a big positive with regards to electric power. We've always had the ability to run our generator for larger power demands and to re-charge the house batteries. But as quiet as it is, the generator does consume diesel fuel ($$) and we don't like running it when we're away from the bus-house for any period of time. The solar panels have pretty much taken over the battery charging responsibilities. As long as the sun shines and as long as we're not wasteful in our use of electricity, we can survive without being plugged into the "grid" indefinitely.

Propane is another outside resource that doesn't impact our length of stay very much. We carry about 25 gallons of it and it lasts a very long time -- especially during the summer when there's no need to heat the bus-house. Besides the furnace, propane is used by the refrigerator, the water heater, and the cook-top. It's easy to go the entire summer without danger of running out of propane.

So that leaves two critical resources -- fresh-water and sewer. When parked without a water hookup for an extended period, we go into "water conservation mode", which means extreme limits on water use. I won't go into all the little techniques, but let's just say we've found it's possible to survive for a while using just 7 or 8 gallons of water per day. But after two weeks or less, we've got find a place to refill. Our waste tanks can be stretched to go up to 2 weeks too.

So about every week and a half or two weeks, it's necessary to "re-connect" to the outside world. Often this means we've got to get into travel-mode and physically move the bus-house to a place we can re-fill with fresh-water and dump the sewer tanks.

It's a small price to pay for the freedom of living this nomadic lifestyle.



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