Skinny Fish

Yesterday was the last day of my “weekend” and while I had a lot of chores to get done, I did take enough time to hike up to Skinny Fish Lake. Why? Because I really like the name Skinny Fish!

Speaking of Skinny Fish or Skinnyfish, check out Skinnyfish Sound System:

But please also check out my hike up to Skinny Fish Lake:

I’ve Got The Power!

Okay, that’s just silly! But this post is about power. Specifically, how I store it. Let me explain.

When my ex and I bought the motorhome in 2016 it still had the original 12-volt marine batteries that were installed at the factory in 2010 (it’s a 2011 but was manufactured in July of 2010). The batteries were pretty much toast but the original owner only camped at places with electric hookups so they didn’t care, or perhaps didn’t even notice.

So in April of last year I replaced those two 12-volt marine batteries — marine batteries are sort of a hybrid between a starter battery and a deep cycle battery — with two 6-volt deep cycle golf cart batteries wired in series. These were standard flooded lead acid batteries that require periodic topping off of the water, and which emit gases and therefore require venting. This was fine as they went into the battery compartment under the stairs which is open to the outside and thus well ventilated. I installed a watering system to make keeping the water at the proper level in each cell a trivial job.

Fast forward to March of this year. I’d gone through the winter doing a good bit of boondocking and dry camping (camping without hookups) in National Parks, depending on a small portable solar panel and my generator to keep my batteries charged. I made a return trip to Quartzsite specifically to have some solar installed on the motorhome. I had three 160 watt solar panels installed on the roof, for a total of 480 watts, as well as a solar charge controller and monitor. But generating all that electricity is useless unless you can store it for when you need it, so I also expanded my storage by adding two more batteries.

My battery compartment will only hold the three batteries that were already there; the two 6-volt house batteries I had installed last April, and the chassis battery. The only logical place to put the new additional batteries was in one of the basement storage compartments. In order to install more flooded batteries I would need a battery box installed and vented to the outside. Instead of doing this, I had two 6-volt deep cycle AGM batteries installed. AGM batteries are sealed so they can be installed without venting. It’s less than ideal to mix AGM and flooded batteries, but I didn’t have the money to replace my flooded batteries with AGMs at the moment.

One of the good parts of spending the summer in one place is that I’m not spending money buying gas to travel, so I had the extra cash to finally buy two more AGM batteries, and today I swapped out the flooded batteries for the new AGMs. I now have four matching batteries.

This completes the first half of the project; generating electricity and storing it for use. Now that I’ve got a fair amount of power on tap, I need to make some modifications to the power distribution in the motorhome so I can take full advantage of it. That will come later; probably next spring.

The flooded 6-volt batteries installed in April 2017
The new 6-volt AGM batteries installed today
The two AGM batteries and solar charge controller installed in the storage bay last March
The monitor that lets me keep track of what the solar charge controller is doing and the state of the batteries

SAD

For years I’ve suffered with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and just about this time of year, when the quality of the morning and evening light starts to change, I’d get a deep feeling of dread for the upcoming cold dark gray days of November in New England. I’m sure my ex could tell stories of how cranky I would become before spring finally arrived.

Now that I am no longer tied to any one place and I know I can leave when I want to, I am actually looking forward to autumn again. I plan to be back in New England to visit family around the first of October, and I am rather excitedly anticipating those cool crisp fall days. It has to be decades at least since I have felt this way. It’s really quite amazing!

Some Random Thoughts On Workamping

I am about halfway through my very first workamping job, and I thought I’d share a few random thoughts on the experience. I am working for a private company that operates Forest Service campgrounds in the White River National Forest, among other places. I work as a camphost for North Fork Campground, and as an assistant to the guy responsible for maintenance at about a dozen campgrounds in the area.

When I took this job there were a few things that concerned me:

  • After being footloose and fancy free for 6 months, never spending more than 10 days in any one place, would I go stir crazy being in one place for 4 months?
    Well, so far I’m loving being here. It’s a gorgeous corner of the world, and there is a lot to explore. I’ve been doing a fair bit of hiking on my days off, and also trying to teach myself to mountain bike (without much success, I might add). I’ll be ready to leave and head east when my job ends in September, but I’m not chomping at the bit to get moving.
  • Just how gross would it be cleaning bathrooms?Not that gross, I’m happy to report. For one thing, this campground isn’t all that heavily used during the week. But mostly it’s because I have all the tools I need to clean without getting too “up close and personal.” I regularly get compliments from campers on how clean the restrooms are. Considering that these are what the Forest Service refers to as “vault toilets,” and that there is no running water, that’s quite a compliment.
  • How much of my time would be spent dealing with jerks?As it turns out, nearly none. I’ve not had to deal with any real jerks that would necessitate calling in law enforcement. The huge majority of campers are wonderful to deal with, and I’ve had some really fun and interesting conversations with some of them. There is the occasional person who tries to get out of paying for their site or who resents being asked for the information I need to register them, but they were all handled without any harsh words being exchanged.

Boulder Lake

I got up early this morning so I could hike up to Boulder Lake and back before it got too hot. The trailhead is at Himes Peak Campground, about 8 or so miles from here. From there I hiked up the Big Fish Trail about a mile and a quarter to the turn off for Boulder Lake.

The Boulder Lake trail climbs the ridge to the west. Thankfully this is the West where trails have switchbacks, unlike Eastern trails that tend to go straight up the fall line.

I did shoot some video of today’s hike. All I have to shoot with is my cell phone, so don’t expect too much. Hiking uphill over uneven terrain shooting with a cell phone doesn’t make for rock steady video.

Speedgoat Karl

The beginning of the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain. March 16, 2009.
The summit of Mount Katahdin. Sept 25, 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night I was browsing NetFlix (love my satellite internet!) and came across Karl Meltzer: Made to be Broken; a documentary about Karl’s 2016 run that broke the then record fastest time to complete the Appalachian Trail. I enjoyed this on so many levels.

First was just seeing spots along the AT and recognizing them from my own thru-hike. It’s amazing how many places I recognized, and even thought to myself “I know exactly where they’re standing to get that shot.” Continue reading “Speedgoat Karl”

Monkeywrench Your Life?

Monkeywrench your life. What does that mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, a Monkey Wrench is:
1: a wrench with one fixed and one adjustable jaw at right angles to a straight handle
2something that disrupts 

It’s the second definition I have in mind; something that disrupts. And yes, I know it’s weird that I write monkeywrench as one word instead of two. I always have and even though I know it’s wrong, I’m going to continue doing so. Continue reading “Monkeywrench Your Life?”