Saturday, December 15, 2018

I ride an old paint

There are spots on the hood of the Rolling Steel Tent where the paint has flaked off. It’s a common problem with cargo vans. According to a body shop guy, the gray epoxy-based primer is really good at preventing rust but it doesn’t get along all that well with the utilitarian white paint used on cargo vans. Sort of like coworkers who don’t like each other. Or a failing marriage.

I’ve done quick and dirty repairs on the hood with white spray paint. It looks okay from a distance, but up close it looks scabby in a way the says, “Poor and homeless.”

It would be nice to have a pro repaint it, but I don’t really have the money for it (unless there are folks feeling generous enough to click the donation button on the right).

Barring that, I need to sand back the the edges of the flaked spots so they blend in, then take a little more time applying the paint. I could do the sanding by hand, but it would go a lot faster if I had a random orbital sander. Mmmmmm, power tools.

I could rent a sander from a home improvement store, but I would need a cordless one, which they don’t have. So I considered buying one. I saw one for about $50. Not bad. Then I read the fine print on the box. “Battery and charger not included.” I guess they figure by the time you get a sander you already have one of their other cordless tools and you could just use the batteries and charger from them. Otherwise it’s another $50.

Well, since I already have a cordless Makita drill and impact driver I could get their random orbital sander. But it’s $99. No savings there.

So, it looks like I need to use good old elbow grease. Or just ignore it.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Where oh where?

Let’s say you wanted to buy one of these flexible grabber things to fish something out of a tight space in your van. Let’s also say you went to a store specializing in tools and related tool-ish things. A store like, oh, Harbor Freight on 16th Street in Yuma. Yeah, that’s a good example.

Here’s the question: Among what other tools and related tool-ish things would you expect to find a flexible grabber thing?

You’re wrong. Unless your mind is ordered in the same illogical way as someone at that Harbor Freight.

Or maybe the decision was made by a chimp caged at corporate headquarters. Let’s call the poor primate Skippy. The corporate honchos ask, “Where should we put the flexible grabber things, Skippy?” Skippy then throws his feces at a big map of the store layout. Wherever the largest bit sticks is where they put the flexible grabber thing. Then Skippy throws some feces at the corporate honchos. Because his name is actually Zeltonus the Great.

Sunday, December 9, 2018


Part of boondocking along American Girl Mine Road in far southeastern California is the train track nearby. Trains rumble through all day. And all night. I’ve become used to it. Mostly.

Last night I awoke to what sounded like a colossal VW Bug with a bad muffler idling just outside the Rolling Steel Tent. I checked. Nope. Just an unusually loud and odd sounding train. Perhaps it was loaded with idling old Volkswagens.

Saturday, December 8, 2018


We’re getting down to the short days and long nights, with some rainy days thrown in now and then.

My non-tilting solar panel provided enough charging power through last winter and so far this year. But I still need to be judicious with my use of electricity. Dude, recharge the laptop and phone before sunset.

After a little thought I realized I could tilt the solar panel by just removing two bolts and having it pivot on the other two. Grab a wrench and a socket for the drill, stand in the side and back doors, z-z-z-erp z-z-z-erp, remove the bolts, lift, slip a piece of scrap lumper in there to hold it up, and there I go.

A longer board would tilt it higher, but this was what I had on hand. It’s good for adding at least a half hour of exposure at each end of the day.

Now cross my fingers and hope for only mild breezes.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Dream Report: Trapped

In the wee hours I dreamed about visiting my former house/prison to see what the current owner had done with it. The renovations were ugly and poorly done.

It had snowed about a foot while I was in the house but there was a snowless spot on the driveway where I had parked the van. Where’s my van? Panic!

Then I realized I was in a dream. But how could I get out of it? Am I trapped?

I became sufficiently conscious to know I was out of the dream and in my good old van, snug in bed with rain pattering on the roof. I relaxed—and drifted right back into the dream. Crap.

Now a friend from high school had set up an office in one of the bedrooms. He was renting the space. The owner came in and was mad I was there. I wanted to leave but, ergh, I couldn’t find the exit from the dream.

Thanks, subconscious, but I don’t need to be reminded how glad I am to not be a homeowner anymore, to be a mostly carefree nomad.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Two introverts named Alan walked into a bar

Well, there was no bar, and they didn’t walk in, but two introverts still got together. At a gathering of nomads. Ew, gatherings.

My friend Alan emailed me with the news he was taking a break from his homeowner life in southern Texas to visit a friend in Albuquerque and to hang out with one of the Cheap RV Living caravans camped near Parker, Arizona. Did I want to meet up? Sure!

So, what do introverts do at a social gathering? Talk to each other. Off to the side.

Okay, but why meet at a social gathering? Because Alan from Texas had set a goal to make at least two new friends. His Texas buddies are all too occupied with families and jobs. A group of nomads, who are less tied to those things, and who share an interest in wandering the country, would be a good place to seek likeminded folks. Even if it meant a 3,000 mile round trip.

I was there because I hadn’t seen Alan from Texas in over a year. And because he understands the whole introvert thing.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Doing it correctly

Back before Thanksgiving I reported how I fixed my headlight with a zip tie. It worked but, you know, it wasn’t a proper repair. Since I’m relatively close to a Chevrolet dealer, I went to buy the spring I should’ve acquired years ago. Naturally, they didn’t have one in stock. They ordered it and it arrived after the holiday. It had been sitting in my console since then, waiting for me to be in the mood to remove the grille again. Today I was in the mood.

While I had the hood open and the tools out, I also got around to replacing the heater fan control I’ve had for about a year. Or more. Now I have my preferred fan speed back.

Old on the right, new on the left

Old one removed

New one in place

I was in the process of buttoning everything back up when an RVer from about 200 yards away strolled up and asked if I had some kind of trouble. I explained what I was doing and thanked him for his concern.

Friday, November 30, 2018

What's better than a freebie?

Two freebies. And maybe more.

It used to be that non-pro drivers paid $12 for showers at the Flying J on the east side of Yuma. The last two times I was there they waved away my cash and said, “Give us your driver license to hold until you return the key.” (This is an older place without fancy digital door locks on the showers.) And it all went just like that.

This isn’t my favorite truck stop for showers. The towels are thin and scratchy and the bath mat is a piece of paper. But hey, it’s free. At the moment, anyway.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

In with the new

Having set up a mail forwarding address in Quartzsite it’s now easy to have packages shipped to me—providing I’m in the general area or would be passing through. And since had knocked 20 percent off the price of Keen Arroyo II’s, it was a good time to order up my favorite shoe.

Looking a little too new

My old Arroyo II’s are still going strong, but it’s good to have a backup pair in case they stop making them or I grow another set of legs.

Good thing I had stopped at the fish market earlier

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hurray for public dumpsters!

Trash disposal is seldom simple for us nomads. We can leave small bags in trash cans at places like gas stations, city parks, fast food joints, and big box store parking lots.

Our options become a lot fewer, though, if we’ve been away from civilization long enough to fill a 30-gallon trash bag or two. Then it’s time to find a dumpster. Naturally, no one wants their dumpsters filled with other people’s trash. That’s why so many of them are locked. But what do building dwellers and business owners want us to do (other than not exist)? They don’t want us littering. We don’t want to litter.

Fortunately some governmental institutions have seen the wisdom of providing dumpsters in places heavily used by the mobile public. It’s cheaper to have dumpsters serviced than to clean up trash all over the boonies.

Four of six dumpsters at a California rest stop

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Now hear this

If I’m going to spend more time around clusters of campers, nomads, RVers and such, I might need to get a bullhorn.

“Hey! It’s after ten o’clock! Shut down your #*/x!@+* generator!”

“Hey! Quit revving your #*/x!@+* ATV for no reason!”

“Hey! Silence your #*/x!@+* dog(s)!”

Yeah, maybe Santa will bring me one.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Hey, buddy, do you have the time?

I’m camped in the southeast corner of California, about fifteen miles from Yuma Arizona and ten miles from Baja California. That means time is an issue—at least as much as time can be a issue for a guy with no schedules. Pacific Standard Time in California and Baja, and Mountain Standard Time in Arizona and Baja Sur. I’ve had a few weeks to adapt, but still…

It’s simpler here when it’s Daylight Saving Time and Arizona is on Contrarian Time. Then the time is the same in both California and Arizona. And those who cross in and out of Utah, New Mexico and Sonora grumble about the time difference.

When I camped here with Lou, he kept his watch set to Arizona time because he had various medical appointments in Yuma. I compromise. I keep my computer set for whatever time zone I’m camped in and let my phone automatically switch as I drive. It’s not that great of a compromise since I sometimes forget that’s what I’m doing. Good thing it rarely matters. At least I’m not in one of those states with two time zones. Oh, wait. The Navajo Nation (but not the Hopi Nation, which is surrounded by the Navajo Nation) observes Daylight Saving Time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Nose job

I decided to do a little cosmetic work on the Rolling Steel Tent while the grille was off. The gold coating on the Chevrolet logo had started to peel and, since I’m not a huge fan of gold, I painted it white. After cleaning the bug guts off of it.