Palm Trees in southern Florida

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Cost Of Drinking Water

I'd never really thought about buying water from a machine until we spent some time in Quartzsite Arizona. I'd bought water in those little bottles before but never from a machine.

There were several different machines in Quartzsite and I found that  I liked the Glacier machine water the best. There were machines all over the place, I lived near the Quartzsite General Store so that was the machine I used.

This is about the cost of water. In Quartzsite it was 25 cents a gallon or a dollar for a 5 gallon jug. When we were in New Mexico it was still 25 cents a gallon but a 5 gallon jug was going to cost you $1.25, no discount from the machine in New Mexico. The next time we needed to fill some jugs we were in Alpine Texas, it was 35 cents a gallon and the discount for a jug was gone.

I hadn't seen any water machines in awhile, I'm not saying they are not around, I just didn't notice any until yesterday (I'm in Iowa now). I was walking out of Walmart and down in front I walked by a water machine. I stopped and took a step back to see the price, 39 cents a gallon. I wonder if you pay sales tax on that? I'll check the next time I go in.

I'd wondered what a gallon of water costs when it comes in those little bottles? $3 for a case of 24 bottles is about $1 a gallon.

I don't have any pictures today...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Looking For A Ride

When we started this RV adventure all we had was an '84 Subaru powered VW  Vanagon Westfalia camper, that's pretty close to a blank slate.  We had a lot of options. You have to keep in mind that we are talking about getting  a used RV, this is not a big budget project.  Get a class "A" or a class "C" RV and tow the VW, sell the VW & get a truck to pull a 5th wheel camper or a travel trailer, or get a Suburban or a Tahoe to tow a travel trailer.

We looked at a lot of rigs and the 5th wheel made a lot of sense but I am a VW bus guy and I REALLY wanted to bring it along... The plan was that when we found the 'living quarters' that we really liked, that fit our 'perceived' needs and was within the budget we'd go that way. If it was a 5th wheel or a travel trailer we'd sell the bus if it was a "C" or an "A" we'd get a tow bar, a Brake Buddy & bring the bus.
We did a lot of RV shopping, we actually spent more than one night in the VW when we were RV shopping at some distance. We saw a wide variety... After awhile they all start to look the same, but different, we'd talk later and we started having troubles remembering which was which. We were learning.

We went to a lot of RV lots looking at used rigs and I had forgotten about "used car salesmen", they are still out there and many are selling used RVs. There was a lot close to our home that we looked at often, the sales guy would walk out and say hello, we'd tell him we are still just looking, he'd say "help yourself", we'd say "thank you" & he'd go back to his office.  One day he came out when we arrived and we got talking and I mentioned a dollar amount and asked him what that could get us on his lot, he laughed and said "maybe a down payment". I liked the place, the guy had been helpful in the past and the amount I mentioned was a good starting point for many of the rigs they had if you compared them with private party sales on craigslist. His "maybe a down payment" remark did the trick, that was the last time we stopped there. We ended up spending a little over twice the figure I mentioned to the guy... At different lot...

We spent more time looking at class "A"s than anything else, there were a lot of them out there, they had the room & I could keep my VW bus. We found a class "A" that had what we wanted & bought it. Then I got the towbar, Brake Buddy, lights, tow brackets for the VW and we set out with our bus in tow! It turned out that VW was too much for the RV on good sized hills, turned out we didn't do a lot of camping where we needed the camper part of the Vanagon. We sold the VW camper.

Looking back a 5th wheel & a truck would have been a better idea, we should have bought a 5th wheel when we started this.

A January Sunrise In Arizona- What kind of entry would this be with a photo?

We are now in Iowa for 6 months of work, a bike is '"ok" at best because of the weather, the roads & the distances. So I'm looking for a ride.

I have lived in the upper mid-west before, I understand about rust & cars up here. When we went back to the west coast in 2003 (from Minnesota) I noticed the mountains but my kids noticed that none of the cars were rusted out at the bottom!  I'm in rust country looking for a ride around town, not an investment.
VW buses are in short supply out here .... there was one 400 miles from here but that's a long ways to go for a VW the guy can't show me any pictures of...
The VW camper we sold was in the 5,000+ lb range, the '87 regular Vanagon I'd had before that cleared the scales at less than 3,000 pounds, I'd be willing to try towing an empty VW again, so I'm looking.

I'm probably not going to find a VW bus, so I'm looking at everything. From a 3/4 ton full sized van to an older S10 pickup to a Ford Taurus I'm looking at them all! It doesn't have to be towable by this class "A", it has to be cheap, run and something I'd like to drive. If I could find someone to trade a suitable 5th wheel or travel trailer for this class "A"  a truck or Suburban to pull that would be in order.
This looking is actually fun.

The wild card is my spouse, trying to figure out what she 'wants' before I buy something <g>... I just want to be able to drive to Aldis or any grocery store other than Walmart (what a poor selection in Walmart these days), maybe drive to a movie theater or a lake for fishing.

We should have bought a 5th wheel when we started, we didn't so I'm in Iowa looking for a ride and craigslist is (once again) my friend.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Over the years on the places I frequent on the internet "Terlingua" comes up, almost a mythical place. A place where people go to start over, an affordable place, a place with room for most anyone.

I went down to take a look.

The first 13 miles were paved
Striking country, rough & just beautiful, elbow room and a lot of people doing their own thing.  A great big chunk of desert not far from Mexico that is not on a lot of people's radars.
You have to want to be there but if you want it Terlingua is there.

3 miles didn't seem too far until I started on the washboard

I took the drive out to the Terlingua Ranch lodge, the tar road was fine but 100 feet down the washboard dirt road I knew that this RV was not a VW bus and this road was not the place for it! We turned around and headed back.
In that drive saw all shapes, sizes & type of shelters. Shade shelters, water tanks & Texas flags were prevalent.

The whole area was great, it reminded me of something, somewhere, some 'when' I'd seen before. Probably Sonoma county California back in the early 70's, not the physical country but the feeling I got from it.

We stopped at the Terlingua Trading Company & walked thru the graveyard, we stopped at Bobby's Blues and BBQ for some good eats. We walked out and looked at the stone house remains that were built by the miners at the turn of the 'last' century and we looked down the mine shaft. We enjoyed the warm but not hot weather.  We watched a truck delivering a cabin almost not make it up a hill. We took pictures and did tourist things then we headed for Big Bend National Park.

Terlingua didn't jump out and grab me but it's been on my mind since our visit.

End of the paved road, it was tough on the RV
A cabin being delivered

A home from the early 1900's

Down the mine shaft, Quicksilver is what they mined

Terlingua Trading Company 

Bobby's Smoker = Good Eats!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Bicycle - bicycle - bicycle or life without a car

I guess I could title this as "These feet were made for walking"?

A few months back we sold our car with the intention of getting something that weighed less (our RV was not happy on hills with the VW camper) and then decided to try car-less for awhile. We have both bicycles, why not?

With a store bought milk crate bungied to the rack on the back you can carry what you can put in one of those grocery store carry around baskets. Add a front basket and a back pack and you can do a shopping trip for two.
This worked well in Quartzsite. Quartzsite is flat, the desert is rock based not sand, everything is within 2 miles and it doesn't rain. There was a day the wind got me, I had to pedal DOWN off the overpass but for the most part a bike was fine in (flat) Quartzsite.

At all the rest of our stops since then a bike or on foot as been a reasonable answer, until we settled in Iowa for 6 months.

Riding a bike in heavy rain is not fun, riding a bike along a busy road is very uncomfortable (basic physics), riding a bike with 30mph winds is an exercise in futility, and the thought of riding a bike 6 miles on busy roads to go to an Aldis to shop is just nuts.

I'm aware of the above points but wanted to give the 'car-less' lifestyle a real chance, the Des Moines area does have a bus system. Then came yesterday.
I had to go to the post office, there was no way around it, a quick on-line look with google maps showed it was just over 3 miles away. Three miles? Not a problem! How's the weather? Problem! 30 mph wind and cold. The bus stop is one mile in a different direction.

I can't ride a bike into 30 mph headwinds, sorry. I had to go to the post office, I chose to walk. By the time we got home we'd done 7 miles with a cold wind from the side or in your face the whole was, was a tough walk.

During our walk we saw a lot of places to explore (in Altoona) on a bike if Spring ever gets here but that doesn't really address my problem of those places that are just too far away or the roads to get to them scare me if I was on a bike. Part of our plan was to settle in an area  for several months and explore, not as easy as I thought it was going to be. After yesterday, we need a car.
I've thought of a gas or electric motor on a bike but the cars are ALL way bigger than we are (physics) plus it does rain in the mid-west all summer long. I'm watching craigslist for car.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for life without a car? Maybe because walking or a bike rather than a car is a choice? One of my thoughts as I was trudging into that god awful head wind yesterday with my gortex raincoat turned windbreaker's collar pushed up so I could put my chin in it & out of the wind was that if I had to walk back to the west coast I'd be in trouble. Walking back to the RV was not easy.

All my life I'd figured that as long as I was on the mainland I could (if I needed to) walk to where ever it was I had to go. That thought has been a key in all the "what if" survival plans that I've had over the years. In the early 80's I lived west of the San Andres fault, 300' from the beach in Pacifica, CA. I was aware that if a quake came & I didn't 'fall into the sea' we'd be on our own for awhile, I kept water & such in my small apartment. Survival preps have always been important to me, I read some blogs & am on a couple of email lists but I see the preparation as insurance rather than as a way of life.
Yesterday I had to walk home to the RV... walking home to Washington state would not be easy.

I'm watching craigslist, VW buses are in short supply out here but I keep looking! Maybe it's time for a pickup truck, it's been awhile...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day one of this blog finds us waiting for Spring to arrive in central Iowa. Wind, cold, wet & snow flakes today.  We are workcamping...

Actually I'm trying to figure out the mechanics of this blog, I want to get the other blogs I follow listed on the side. Having something new to learn is good.