A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Simple Stoves

This is what is commonly known as a Rocket Stove.  It is so efficient that with very little fuel the fire can get roaring like a rocket.  My neighbor who has this stove as since learned she can use a lot less twigs.  You can burn most anything in it and when camping there is abundant fuel lying about in the source of little sticks from trees.  
Air feeds in from the holes at the bottom and the fuel sits on a tray inside.

My other neighbor has this stove which she found on eBay.  I had never seen or heard of one like this before.  It is made in Sweden for boats and sail boats.  It burns alcohol which burns clean with no smoke or carbon monoxide.

It needs very little alcohol so a can last a long time.  The alcohol sits in the middle port then you place the diffuser on the lower left over the flame after lighting it.  The foil wrapped cap on the upper right is to cap off the reservoir of unused alcohol for next time.  I think she said that part was missing when she bought it and so made her own cap from a plastic top wrapped with foil.

You can control the heat by controlling the size of the flame.

 The top tray in position for cooking...

...and turned over to use the unit as a heater for your living space.
She can cook inside and heat the inside of her van with no worries or fumes.
Most of the time she cooks outside and the flame is protected from the wind.

And best of all the inner workings are mounted in a way that it swivels always being level, a necessity for boat life.  That works great for on the road life too and I know for it is annoying to have your eggs slide over to one side of the pan all the time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Joe's Van

My ex-neighbor (I've since moved) from New York had this really nice little van set up for camping.  He brought the truck new and the back part was empty bare metal walls.  This is what he and his brother a woodworker created.

Looking in from the side doors.  All of the wood in this project was harvested from his property except for the paneling.  The bathroom holds a composting toilet and his shower.  
He is 5'8" tall and can stand up straight inside his camper van.

The kitchen area holds a butane cook stove and sink.  
The wood on the end flips up for a table giving more counter space when preparing meals.

 A close-up look at the wood and finishing touches.

 I liked that brass water pump from a boat.  Very classy. 

Looking in the back doors another view of the beautiful wood used.  The finished shelf support is from a grape vine.  Stupid me failed to get a photo standing back where you can see the table with two bench seats against the sides facing each other.  The table drops down to seat level, the seat cushions laid flat and his bed is ready.

These next two pictures show more wood usage for attaching gear.  In doing up the post I noticed places for windows yet from the outside view there never were windows.  Interesting.  If I go back over to that street and Joe is home I'll get a photo of the table/bed and ask about this window thing.

The metal on the bottom is to place under the tires in getting stuck situations.  Above is a cellular booster antenna he can extend to pick up weak cell signals.  I have one and a big thank you to Joe in helping me sort out some problems I had with mine.  
No fault of the device, simply owner/operator error.

You can just barely see his shade structure off the side door in this shot.
Another failure on my part.  Okay, I was distracted by the craftsmanship and beauty of the wood.  
That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

A side note on this is when Joe left home for the RTR five feet of snow had just fallen in two days blowing in off of Lake Erie near where his cabin is.  He had to plow the snow away with his big pickup truck just to go the quarter mile out onto the road and begin his journey to Arizona.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

We are at this annual week-long event commonly referred to as the RTR.  It is a gathering of traveling nomads where you learn lots of stuff about living on the road through daily seminars, plus meeting old friends and making new ones all whom share ideas and helpful advice.  Two years ago there were approximately 800 in attendance.  Last year around 1500 and this year's expectation is 3000!

These seminars start at 10 in the morning and should be about an hour long but they drag on well beyond that what with people asking questions which will be covered in the talk if only they'd be patient and wait.  You have to pack a lunch for the morning seminar.

Last year I attended most of them, or at least the ones the topic I was interested in.  
So having done that, this year I can pass on them all (and the crowd) as for the most part they are rehashing the same material.

 The first one is always general information, do's and don'ts and the answering of a bunch a questions.
One day it was all about solar power and batteries.    Another was how to find places where you can stay for free.  Yesterday was about work-camping.  Some people still have to work to live the nomad life so they talk about being campground hosts, seasonal jobs at state and national parks, working at Amazon and even harvest jobs on farms, plus online jobs if you have certain skills.  Today the were sharing gadgets, store-bought or homemade for making camping life easier and more fun.

This was taken from a YouTube video.  A lot of these people live full time in their vans, trailers and RVs and the rest are all here to learn how to escape the rat race and live the life of a nomad.  Funny as it may seem but the vast majority are introverts, loners, those who like the peace and quiet place all by themselves but yet here we all are crammed together for one week out of the year. 

Beans is having none of this and stays inside most of the time.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Sunset Viewing

I've probably done this more in any one week on the road than I have in one year living at home.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Powering Your Needs

Camping off the grid, meaning not plugged in to an electrical socket, you need a way to recharge your batteries inside the living space for everything runs off of those batteries which are separate from the car battery that runs the automobile.

The most common way is to get power from the sun - solar power through solar panels.  This panel is mounted so that the owner can tilt it towards the sun for maximum efficiency.  The sun's rays are hitting the panel perpendicular to the panel surface rather than on a slant.

Then there are flexible solar panels for those who do not have a flat roof surface to mount a hard panel.  I understand that these panels are not as efficient which is probably why this owner has four of them out in the sun.  Being flexible you can lay them on your irregular roof and also they are easy to store away when traveling.

This is what is commonly known as a suitcase solar panel.  It folds in half and comes in a case to store it in when traveling.  They work as good as the one mounted permanently on the roof but as you can imagine takes up a lot of room inside when stored away. 

Lastly there is wind power to generate electricity for charging the batteries.  They work good but are very noisy and must be really anchored down solidly as you can see here.  They need to be taken down when traveling.  Not a good idea barreling down the road with this thing up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Beans and Her Banana

When I adopted Beans and asked how old she was the guy said "About a year and half".  He didn't know.  So I backed up the time frame to select a day as her "birthday" and picked January 9.  So for Beans' "birthday" she got a new catnip filled banana.  I kept it stored outside in a compartment until that morning.  She was still in bed when I brought it in and set it on the counter.  Instantly her nose started twitching, she jumped down, sniffed around, looked up then jumped up on the counter.  
It took less than a minuet.  It was uncanny.

I cut it loose from the board and the fun began.

I'm not comfortable with her birthday date and have decided to treat the day I adopted her as her birthday from now on.  She'll be getting a new banana April 9th.

Monday, January 8, 2018

What's Cookin'?

Another batch of corn bread.  
I bought three more boxes while at the store.  
One down, two to go.

Beans on the hunt.

Lizards have been scarce these past several weeks.

It must be the cooler weather.
We may even have some rain onTuesday.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Skool's Out

There is a small gathering of converted school buses camped down the way from us.  I've seen some of these conversions on YouTube videos and most are done up pretty neat inside with everything you could possibly need including the kitchen sink and wood burning stoves.

I didn't go and pester any of them for a tour.  I did catch this though.  This is a take-off of the Greyhound passengers buses instead made to look like a lizard.

I can't help but to think of the poor fuel mileage these buses must have whenever I see one.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Gotta Try a Little Bit Harder

The Little House on the Highway was running on E 
with the low fuel light on after 452 miles since the last fill-up.

Filling up it took 24.5 gallons. 
 With a 26.4 gallon tank I still had 1.9 gallons of fuel left to go.
I was disappointed.

If you are not living life on the edge, you're taking up too much space.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Sun Cat

It has been five weeks we've been here outside of Erhenburg, Arizona near the border with California.  It is time to move on to someplace new and get some groceries along the way.
Wherever we go it won't be far.  Not that many warm places in the U.S. right now.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Into the Wash

There is a wash next to us and everyday Beans insists on going down into the wash.  
All of the other area around us up top won't do.  It has to be the wash.

This gives you a better perspective as to how deep it is.

And so we walk the same track, look at the same bushes and rarely see any lizards.  Up on top there are some lizards but noooo.... we have to go down into the wash.  Here she is pulling me along.  She is strong.  She drags a five pound lead weight around at camp with rope attached to.  
Really, if I had 7 more cats like her I could hook them up to a sled
 and have cat team pull me along in the snow.
That would be a sight.

I see these pictures are a bit blurry.  That is because I am getting jerked around by Beans.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Cookin' Corn Bread

The wind died down enough that I dug out the Dutch Oven and would try my luck at some corn bread.  The mix called for 400 degrees cooking temperature.  To achieve that requires 25 charcoal briquettes - 7 under the oven and 18 on top of the lid.  This photo was taken after the cooking was finished so pretty much all you see is ash on the lid. 

I didn't have the oven sitting level and the batter piled up on one side.  Also you can notice how half isn't brown on top.  That is because the breeze was coming from that direction.  In spite of this though the corn bread cooked fine.  I was poking it with a knife making sure it was cooked through.

Oh my goodness!  This corn bread was unlike any I have ever eaten before.  You don't even want to add butter, jam or anything to it.  It is so good just like it is  I highly recommend this brand of corn bread mix.  All you add is water, milk and an egg.  It was all I could do to keep from eating the whole pan full all at once.  I'm picking up two more boxes next time at the store.

And with that Beans and I wish all of your a great 2018.

Friday, December 29, 2017


Our first night together Beans slept I do not know where.  On the second night she was in bed with me and its been like that ever since.  She has always slept down by my feet, but just recently in the last couple of weeks it has progressed to on top of my feet or legs.  You would think that not as comfortable.  It surely isn't for me.  One evening she started out lying on my chest.  She is a BIG cat and breathing was an effort.  Fortunately that didn't last long and she moved on down onto my feet.  Last night when she got up for whatever reasons cats get up in the middle of the night I thought I would out-smart her.  I moved my feet over to the edge of the bed thinking once she got comfortable on them,  I could slip my feet out and have the middle all to myself.  
Ha!  She curled up and went back to sleep right in the middle of the bed probably thinking 
that was nice of him to move his feet for me. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rest in Peace

Just on the other side of the wash we are camped at is this grave site.  I am unable to make out all the writing on the weathered wood memorial that is being held together by zip-ties.  It reads "Rest in Peace" at the top with some type of poem or verse scratched in below followed by what may be a name and date.  Obviously it has been here a long time and no doubt it is the grave of someone's beloved pet who passed away while they were staying here.

This very well could have been Sinbad.  Plans were already made last year to come down to this area for the winter and I thought Sinbad and I would have one last road trip together but as you know he passed away in early October of 2016 before we left home.  That turned out to be a blessing as I would have been torn apart having to bury him in the desert somewhere.  Imagine those poor people starting their car one morning and having to drive away leaving their pet behind.  I venture to guess they never returned as the marker would be replaced with a better one wouldn't you think?