Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Prepping For Disaster

I am going to answer this curious email that consisted of four questions, in today's blog. 

Some hyperlinks give you more information on the products or systems I mention. 


(ONE) How long have you been in your RV?

Over 6 years.

(TWO) Do you like it?

Still deciding if I like it or not... will let you know next year.

(THREE) Does it get good gas mileage?

No one buys an RV because it has good gas mileage. If you want really good gas mileage, buy a bicycle and a tent.

(FOUR) Are you prepped for disaster?

I travel pretty much prepped out for disaster.

One thing many RV-ers may not realize is that many RV parks and camps are built in flood plane zones, the theory being you can move out quickly. So pay attention when camping near rivers and lakes. I was at one camp that had a sign post taller than me and it was marking how high the river had flooded before, which their highest mark was nearly 9 feet! Imagine your RV (or home) parked under 9 feet of water. Not a pretty picture.

I spent a few decades living in far flung ports where disasters stuck, so being prepared for the before, during and aftermath to me is important. It also comes in handy for other reasons.

I keep my gas tank topped up before I camp, so if I am leaving in an emergency, I don't have to wait in line at a gas station. Also this is super handy for any electrical outages, I already have a full tank of gas for the generator. What's the use of having a generator if you have no gas to supply it? Leave early and avoid traffic.

Better to run from nothing than to get stuck in something.

I travel with nearly full water tanks. I have broken down before on a hot humid day and it was nice to be able to flush the toilet, make lunch, wash dishes and so on. Also when arriving at camp, if dead tired, it's nice to not have to deal with the water hookups right away, it can wait. Also campgrounds have to make repairs and sometimes their water is turned off and it's nice to have that tank load of water ready. I've said nice three times. Water is nice, nice, nice. Now that makes six times.

I have a pantry full of canned goods and extra foods like rice and pasta. Most of these I bought on discounted sale and added to the pantry. Also have dried beans on hand. A small pile of dried beans can feed one a long time. Combined with corn (from a can) or rice, or cheese,  it makes a complete protein. This extra pantry food has come in handy so many times. I don't travel with a car, so I am able to be super flexible about my length of stay in remote camps. I once ate out of my pantry for over a month without shopping and was astonished at how much I still had leftover. Maybe it's because I love a wide variety.

My first aid kit keeps getting bigger. I have a remedy for just about anything now. I also save leftover pain medications, you just never know when you might have something overwhelming happen.

Allimax is non prescription and makes a terrific antibiotic without side effects. I have it in all three methods including capsules,  liquid and paste form too. Matter of fact the liquid Allimax saved my ear. I had the most painful horrible ear infection and Allimax liquid cleared it up in short order. Honey is a great antibiotic type treatment for wounds, though the pricey medical grade honey (Manuka from New Zealand) is the most effective, I found regular honey works too, just takes longer.


I buy big packages of sturdy batteries since I do have flashlights and items that use them. I try to limit my type of battery  uses, but still... I end up with D's, AA, AAA and 9volts. So far I have escaped needing C's.

Also I have portable solar lights, which are super useful. I wish I had a solar panel, it's on the list, but don't have one yet. The solar lights are super useful, some are motion activated, so it conserves battery life. I have also used them for security reasons when camping. Like a motion solar light that comes on if anyone approaches my camp or locked bicycle at night etc. Mostly it startles wildlife and keeps the raccoons away.

Stash extra garbage bags! In the event of an emergency, you want to be able to bag up the mess, if you have no extra bags, heaven help ya. Also garbage bags can be used to store essentials should you end up with a hole in the roof or some such nonsense during a storm.

I have a powerful battery operated spotlight which can come in handy for a disaster or emergency at night.

One of my best disaster pieces of equipment I use daily too, is a Berkey water purifier. It requires no electricity and no water pressure. It can purify river or lake or rain water as well as out of the tap water. Awesome taste. I love it. The filters last between 6,000 and 30,000 gallons depending on water quality and some camps serve up some truly awful water that slows down the purifier to a drip, but I keep carafes of already purified water on hand, which I top up daily from the purifier. The filters can be removed and scrubbed with a brush, rinsed and reused over and over.

I stayed in a place with stinky water, it smelled awful! But the purifier removed all the stink and it tasted wonderful.

Pet food... I carry lots of extra pet food with me so the pooch need not worry. Matter of fact, I typically keep him a 2-3 month stock around.

Bug stuff... I travel with lots of assorted bug repellents and bug and ant killers etc. Disasters seem to to bring on the bugs.

Fix-a-flat for large tires and tire repair kit. Debris in the road after a disaster can cause havoc. My RV came with a 12 volt tire inflator too. It did not come with a jack. The spare tire weighs about a 100 pounds and the motorhome about 6 tons. I have already used my fix-a-flat in an emergency which reminds me, I need to restock. Two or more cans is preferred. In the Caribbean where the roads were horrible, I traveled with a tire repair kit. After 6 years, I finally had a need to use it in a remote location.

Cash. In the event of an emergency, ATM's go down, power goes out and stores refuse credit and debit cards, opting for cash only. Ditto for the black market where cash is king. Also useful for bribes.

Weapons. Your best weapon is being able to hide from the masses. People do strange things when their food and water is threatened or unavailable.

Maps. A good Atlas is indispensable and a compass.

Tools and repair supplies like duck tape and paper clips.

Fire starter. Lighters, matches, candles, gel type fire starter.

A backpack. If you end up hiking or biking, you are going to need a backpack to carry essentials.

Well, that about covers question four.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Be prepared and nothing happens but it does put the "good luck" factor in your daily life. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Beauty and the Beast

I woke up alive.

In spite of it all. Fever, pain, a grumpy RV beast... yet a beautiful day poked me in the face and reminded me... you are ALIVE!

Like my dog wants to mark his presence on planet earth by tinkling on special spots, I want to mark my glorious triumph of awakening to another day in paradise with a special beatific reminder that life is good.

We set out on foot and paw with poop baggy and camera.

Sometimes nature, a rare steady hand and the erratic camera all conspire together to produce something magnificent that I can treasure and share.

Another day...

I will tell you about the RV breaking down this past week (again) in hot humid heat (still no air conditioning) at the gas station blocking their pumps. I sure was popular in a strange sort of way. I think they thought after spending $74.99 on gas, I was just going to camp awhile.

Oh shoot, I will just spill the beans now... not leave you with a cliff hanger afterall. Here's the rest of the story in more or less short order form.

Eventually I was towed out of there, then overnighted in an industrial area by a very busy highway, prominently parked in front of a repair facility that had promised to "deal with me" in the morning.

A quick repair turned into a mystery with  the morning and afternoon mechanics, the manager, interested parties, bored bystanders, a few tow truck drivers, scratching their heads and tearing the engine apart trying to figure out why the RV refused to start in spite of the new starter they sold me.

It was like a game as each new mechanic showed up to tackle this mystery.

I kept reminding them I had driven 160 miles down horrible roads that were bumpier than an old washboard so perhaps something had jiggled, wiggled and giggled its way loose. I also entertained them with some of the maintenance and repairs. Batteries new last year, both starter and house battery. Engine wouldn't start on either one. New serpentine belt rerouted to avoid the broken AC compressor (soon to be repaired also) was only a few weeks old. Alternator was putting out power just fine according to my dials. Since this wasn't an RV place, I explained about the trickle charger I installed and what it was doing as well as the inverter/converter that charges the batteries when I am parked and plugged in or running the generator.

If anything, they seemed impressed I knew a tiny bit about how this monster works.

Or doesn't work.

About the time I was ready to pass right out from the heat... again... they discovered I didn't need a new starter, I needed a new heavy duty grounding wire. The old one was corroded. They had been systematically checking all the wires snaking around the engine when the new starter refused to crank. With a new ground wire, the engine roared to life.

Big sighs of relief, hand clapping, cheering and slaps on the back. The beast was revived and ALIVE.

I kept the new starter (already installed) and tossed the old one (which presumably still works) in the toy box in back of the rig. It sure is ugly looking rather ancient and well worn like maybe it does deserve to be retired. They sort of offered to un-install the new starter (at no charge for installing or uninstalling) but when I decided to just keep it (for good luck!) they decided to only charge me for that and not the hours and hours they spent solving the mystery.

Sometimes you just meet downright decent folks. Phew!

Below is my old starter, might be the original 1993 version what with all that rust and chunks of metal missing.

Beauty and the beast.

Life is goof.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

My GPS Works For Treats!

My GPS (Goofy Paw Spotter) is working again!

Give him an atlas, a few dog treats, some post-it notes and he gets right down to work.