Showing posts from February, 2015

Power Shortage - Alternatives and Solutions

The Problem: Our Four Wheel Camper’s power demand is often greater than our battery (2x group-24 AGMs) can supply.

Discussion: The fridge (4 to 5 amps while running) and the furnace (4 amps) are our two largest power users. Lighting is inconsequential as everything is LEDs with little demand. Between the two biggies, we can use somewhere about 50, 60, or more amp/hrs in a 24 hr. period during winter months. Since we have 75 amp/hrs available (50% of total battery capacity of 150 amp/hrs), you can see that just one day can chew up a good percentage of what we have. The solar panel (100 watts) is mounted flat on the roof so the angle to the sun is severe, especially in the winter. For maximum production, you’d want the panel pointing directly, squarely, at the sun. As it is, the panel will produce between 4 and 5 amps per hour on a sunny winter day here in Arizona… but that’s just for a few hours near midday. On a good day the system will pump a total of about 20 or 25 amp/hrs into th…

Luminary Sky Lantern Litter

Hi. This is Dar.
Not usual for me to write on the blog, but I developed strong emotions about this topic and I needed to vent. So here it goes:

We stopped and stayed in Quartzite for a few days during the opening of the big RV Show in mid-January and connect up with friends there. Enjoying our first evening with our friends staying in the Dome Rock area, we noticed luminaries ascending into the night sky from some distance away on the other side of the interstate. The wind carried them over our area and eventually the candle would burn out. Had to be a couple dozen go up that we saw. At first I thought, “How pretty and peaceful.” Next came my questions: How do they work? What are they made of? What happens when the flame/light goes out? What happens if it comes down before the flame goes out? Can they then start a ground fire? What happens to the balloon?

Next day on a short hike, after viewing the previous night's sky show, Thom and I came across a couple of large colorful paper…

Mojave National Preserve - Return to North Ranch

Wednesday, February 11; Granite Pass Bdock, Mojave NP; 48 windy all night
Thought it might be the elevation or being near the pass itself that caused our windy conditions overnight, but, as we found out later in the day, it was windier than normal throughout a wider area around us.

Regardless, we slept well, woke late, and enjoyed the morning. Don’t have far to travel today… maybe as far as Parker and find a BLM camp out west of town.

Being on Granite summit, it’s just a short ways south on Kelbaker Road to I-40, which we took east. At Needles US-95 heads south, a roller-coaster up and down road if there ever was one. I’m sure they used a couple more miles of asphalt than they would have had the roadway been flat. I know, it’s to allow the desert washes to drain… but it was entertaining to say the least.

US-95 intersects with CA-62 at Vidal Junction… our path was east on 62. Clued in by some good friends who camped out here on BLM land in the past, we located the area but kept driv…

Mojave National Preserve - Exploring Days Three and Four

Monday, Feb 9 - Teutonia VFW b-dock Mojave NP; 47 sunny

Broke camp at our VFW/Teutonia Peak b-dock campsite and headed south. 6 miles to Cima, then another 19 to Kelso. This is all paved road, but most of it is very pot-holed and broken up. It requires a keen eye and quick reflexes to keep the vehicle from falling into one. It also seems that a lot of higher-end cars, Mercedes, BMWs, Cadillacs, etc., are using this road as a cut-through of some sort. They catch your eye if only because they're so out-of-place in this land of jeeps and four wheel drive. Las Vegas is just 40 or so miles north of the preserve, so I guess it’s possible these “high-rollers” are itchin’ to get there and try to win enough for the next car payment.

At Kelso we found the Kelso Depot. Besides being the main visitor center for the preserve, it also has an interesting museum and some interpretive exhibits that can educate the willing mind. The depot was constructed in 1924 by the Union Pacific Railroad. Whil…

Mojave National Preserve - Exploring Day Two

Sunday, Feb 8 - HITW CG Mojave NP; 50° windy.

We’re told that February in Mojave is usually colder than what we’ve been experiencing, and often windy. We have the wind but we picked a good week to be here for the mild temps.

Woke after a good nights sleep, broke camp, and headed north on Black Canyon Road. At Cedar Canyon Road we drove east to the Rock House and kicked around there for a while. Originally built in 1929 by a disabled veteran from WWI named Bert Smith, he lived here for 25 years. It’s second long term resident was artist Carl Faber who lived here in the 1980s. It’s a stout structure with thick rock walls that’s held up very well through the years. It’s still used occasionally by the Park Service for special events.

Reversing course, headed west on Black Canyon Road, until it intersects with Kelso Cima Road. We stopped here for a bit to let ourselves and the truck stop vibrating from the rough corrugated dirt park roads. There are two other interesting views from this…

Mojave National Preserve - Exploring Day One

Saturday, Feb 7 - HITW CG Mojave NP; 47

HITW is Hole In The Wall… the area we’re in for a few days in Mojave National Preserve. We’re looking at this visit as a “survey course” of the Preserve, an orientation of the area and what it has to offer.

We started the day driving the 20 mile loop around the Mid Hills and HITW. We did it clockwise, starting at the campground, then south to Wild Horse Canyon Rd. which swings west and then north on the opposite side of the hill we're camped against, eventually connecting with Black Canyon Rd. which brings us back to our HITW camp.

Now, by “road”, don’t get yourself thinking about wide smooth asphalt or even a well cared for gravel roads. Oh no. Of the 20 mile length of this loop, 19.7 miles of it are dirt, sand, wash-out spots, ruts, and a lot of corrugated wash-board surface. Not the kind of road we'd take the bushouse on, ever.

Along this loop, we found a few places where roadside camping is permitted. I guess this would be as good a…

Mojave National Preserve - Getting There

For reference, the Mojave National Preserve is a 1.6 million acre area in Southern California administered by the National Park Service. 1.6 million acres doesn't mean much to most of us, so to put it in different terms, it's roughly a square about 50 miles on a side. It's a sizable piece of geography for sure and it's our objective for the next week or so.

Three sets of mountains are aligned north/south down the middle of the preserve with broad reaches of desert on either side. Elevation ranges from 800 ft. to 7,929 ft atop Clark Mountain. While most of the acreage is considered part of the Mojave Desert, the southeast corner grades toward the Sonoran Desert and the northeast corner includes elements of the Great Basin Desert. So three of the four deserts in the USA come together at this point.

Originally planned to be a full fledged National Park, local resistance caused a change to the "preserve" status. The visible result of this difference in status is…