Friday, December 31, 2021

On the edge of the country

According to Google Maps my spot at Pilot Knob LTVA is 1.78 miles from the border with Mexico. There’s a well maintained dirt road used by the Border Patrol, Bureau of Land Management, and the Imperial Irrigation District. So I took a walk.

The All-American Canal kept me from going all the way to the border fence, but I got close enough to see there was a gate and that it was open.  I assume there were Border Patrol officers there.

The medical tourism mecca, Los Algodones, is just on the other side of the fence. Funny how most Americans assume Mexico is the desolate side of the border, but, in most cases, Mexican border towns are more developed and lush than the US side. I'll be going to Los Algodones again tomorrow before heading to Quartzsite. Medications and fish tacos.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Heat seeking

My feet are always cold. In winter not even heavy wool socks and a down quilt bunched up a few layers thick will help. Because insulation can only hold in the heat our bodies generate. My feet don’t make heat. Back when the first hints of coldish weather started, my feet told me it was time to work on another solution.

Okay, how about a 12 Volt heat pad? I found one for about seventeen bucks.

Because Nature likes to mess with my plans, it sent me several surprisingly not-cold nights. The heat pad was unnecessary. It put cold-hating me in the weird position of wanting colder weather. It finally came. Time for a test.

Right off, I discovered the cord was j-u-u-u-s-t long enough to reach from the nearest 12V outlet to the bed. Well, okay. It just meant I would need to come out from under the nice warm covers to use the control.

The control is simple. An on-off button and + and – buttons to set the temperature in 10° increments. Wanting to make certain I didn’t set anything on fire, I selected 90°F. It warmed up quickly.

Power consumption is my primary concern with using electrical devices to produce heat. After sunset my little Volt meter (which I can see while in bed) usually shows 13V. With the pad heating up it dropped to 12V, which is lower than I like. But once temperature was reached and the pad cycled off, the reading jumped back to 13V. Then, as it cycled on and off to maintain temperature, it would drop to 12V for about two seconds, then back up to 13V again for 15 to 20 seconds. That wasn’t as bad as I feared. When I bumped the temperature up to 100° it behaved the same way.

My feet reported they were happier.

I didn’t want to keep watching the meter all night, so I put the heat pad away. I repeated the test the next night. 

The third night I decided I was satisfied with my testing and went to bed with the intention of leaving the pad on all night. I woke up after a couple of hours and watched the Volt meter from the comfort of bed. It read 13V. I counted 15… 20… 30… 60 seconds. The two-second dip to 12V never came. And the pad didn’t feel warm. Had it gone bad?

The control was off. I pushed the on button and it came on. The pad started warming. Hmmm. The same thing happened about an hour later. Double hmmm. Some kind of fault in the control? A short in the heating wires? To be safe I unplugged it and put it away, much to the disappointment of my feet.

But in the morning, when I wasn’t half asleep, I noticed the small type on the control: 45’ Heat Timer. Oh. So it was working properly. But that wouldn’t serve my need.

So the search for a solution continues.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

My number is up

I watched one of those tool tips videos the other day. The guy said you could make it easier to find the wrench you want if you used a paint marker to color in the size stamped on the tool. He also suggested color coding to differentiate SAE and metric sizes. That wouldn’t be necessary in my case since my metric and SAE sets are from different manufacturers and look nothing alike.

Now not only wrenches easier to identify, I also took the opportunity to straighten up my tool box, returning sockets to their proper holders, grouping the screwdrivers and pliers, tossing bits of trash. All this was easier to do since I’m not actually working on anything at the moment. Hmmmm, maybe I need to invent a project.

Monday, December 27, 2021

If a Microbus mated with a canned ham...

We’re all familiar with Westphalia campers. But they weren’t the only company converting VW buses. Way down in South Africa a company by the name of Jergens was doing its own thing. And doing it rather well.

Here’s a link to the whole story and more photos.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Something different for me

Whenever it rains—even just a little—Ogilby Road gets closed. There are spots where the road dips into washes. Washes might flood. Foolish people might try driving through the water. So when I returned from picking up a package at my mail forwarder in Quartzsite, I was greeted by ROAD CLOSED barriers. I couldn’t access where I had been camping the past week.

Uuuummmmm, okay. What’s Plan B?

How about spending forty bucks and getting a short-term pass for the Pilot Knob Long-Term Visitor Area? Short-term at the long-term.

I had avoided the place the past eight years because it’s right by the Interstate, a CHP office, the agricultural inspection station, a casino, a gas station, and the railroad. And The Center of The World/Museum of History in Granite/Maze of Honor/Chapel on the Hill/section of original spiral staircase from the Eiffel Tower.

Pilot Knob and the Rolling Steel Tent

Eh, sure. Why not? At least the ground is higher, so if it rains more I won’t have to worry about flooding. And it’s closer to Yuma. And the border crossing. Aaaahh, fish tacos!

The pass is good at any of the LTVAs around here, so if I don’t like it here I can try others, like Holtville with its hot spring. And freeway noise.

Monday, December 20, 2021

What a blast!

If you’re in Yuma and want to hose the dirt off your rig—especially the solar panels—you might try Speedway Car Wash, 2460 W. 8th Street, just east of Avenue B.

Besides the usual self-serve car wash amenities, it has large-vehicle-friendly bays with raised areas that allow you to clean your roof. Rather than the metal catwalks found in some car washes, these are built into the dividing walls. The steps are narrow and steep, but they work.

My favorite thing at this place is tremendous water pressure. It’s just a little shy of a power washer. Assume a solid stance, hold on tight and BOOOOOOOOOOOSH! Dirt and bug guts stand no chance. So be careful if you have that flakey white van paint.

One thing that would make this car wash perfect would be machines that accept cards. Luckily, the change machine actually works, though there’s enough of a pause between it eating your bill and the quarters falling to make you wonder whether you just lost a buck.

Oh, as an extra bonus, there are several good Mexican restaurants along 8th Street. I recommend Los Manjares de Pepe between Dora and Almond, a little over a block from Speedway, on the other side of the street, behind a huge tree.

Thursday, December 16, 2021


A few months back Lou asked if I wanted a package of dehydrated hash browns. I hadn’t known there was such a thing. So yeah. 

Just soak them a few minutes, blot them dry, then fry ‘em up, add salt and pepper and whatever else. Really good.

So I bought some more, and enjoyed them, too.

But when I went to replenish my supply, there were none available. Not in Walmart, Albertson’s or Food Basket. And none the next week. Or the next week. Or the next week. Or the next week. Or the next week. Or the next week. Or the next week. Rats.

I tried making some from scratch. They were a disaster.

I looked for them online. I could get them by the case. Nah. Or as a grossly overpriced two-pack. Double nah.

I thought maybe they just weren’t popular enough in the greater Silver City market for the stores to stock them. So I continued my quest when I hit the road. I didn’t find them in Tucson, Buckeye, Blythe or Indio. I didn’t find them at two Fry’s in Yuma or in two of the three-and-a-half Walmarts. Maybe they had stopped making them.

But then today, when I wasn’t really looking for them, because I didn’t think I’d ever see them again, there they were, in the third Yuma Walmart. (Sort of like those stories of finding love when you stop chasing after it.) I grabbed enough to hold me for a while. (Dehydrated hash browns, not love.)

Monday, December 13, 2021

Can I drive there?

Right now I’m camped in a place that looks like the middle of nowhere. Yet there’s a paved road about three-quarters of a mile away, and that road leads to a freeway a little over five miles away, which can take me to a good sized city about fifteen miles away. Rather than the middle of nowhere, I’m on the edge of somewhere.

But if I—or you—really wanted to get away from civilization and the roads that lead there, where should we look? And how far could we actually get from pavement? Well, someone figured it out.


Hmmmmm, there should be a way to adapt this idea to mobile living.

Thursday, December 9, 2021


Fog is a rarity in the desert. It’s so arid. But, surprise, we had some this morning. This photo doesn’t show it very well, because the fog wasn’t very dense, but you can see it along the base of the mountain.

Meanwhile, on another planet...

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Perfect match

I was soaking some lentils and barley and needed something to cover the bowl. Ah-ha! The pot lid was just right.

UPDATE: Here’s what it became with the addition of onions, garlic, carrots, diced tomatoes, beef stock, beef and hot sauce.