Power……

pelican-over-laguna-madre

Sunset over Laguna Madre – how in the world did I ever get this shot!?

I am doing the ultimate *happy dance* right now!!!  My last three years at Dartmouth College, I participated in a lunchtime line-dancing class which I absolutely loved.  One of the songs we routinely danced to was Happy, by Pharrell Williams.  Now, in all honesty, this was actually not my favorite line-dancing tune.  In fact, I came to really hate the song.  Not necessarily because of the song, however.  It was the choreography that bothered me most.   But, now – I feel like dancing this all over Big Bend National Park!

“(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
(Because I’m happy)
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”

Okay – maybe I’ve gone a tad overboard.   But, something as simple as a 12v to 110 power inverter has changed my life today.

power-inverter

Thanks Luke for the inverter – your new one will be on its way soon!

When Jim and I were planning our hiatus from the real world, we intentionally tried to keep it simple.  Instead of trying to figure out every last item we should bring along with us, we consciously decided to let experience and need *on the road* dictate our trajectory.   That said – we did not necessarily agree on what to bring or not to bring – we made compromises as we packed.  I, for example, really felt we should start the trip with a generator since I intended to utilize the boon-docking concept to the maximum when we traveled, and wanted a means to keep our batteries and my electronics charged.  Jim wanted to wait and try to do without this expensive piece of equipment as long as we could, in the hopes of adding solar capabilities along the way and eliminating the need for a generator completely.  He won that argument at the time.

Since the plan was to work along the way, and be connected to full hook-ups as much as possible, we went with the low-tech approach to full-time RV-ing.  And I must say we managed for more than 6 months this way.  Fast-forward to the present day…….

Pelican 3 over Laguna Madre.jpg

I’ll be adding bird shots from Laguna Madre throughout – just for interest.  They have nothing to do with my story!

Since we’ve been spending more time boon-docking and unconnected to 110 power, I’ve been particularly challenged with keeping my laptop charged up.  Let’s be honest here – I have been downright “ugly” about it!  It’s been bad enough relying solely on cell data for internet access.  We tend to be drawn to areas that are not necessarily cell service friendly.  (Picture me sitting huddled over my computer being bombarded with gale-force winds on the deck at the Padre Island Visitor Center – plugged into an outlet and trying to access horribly inept WiFi.  It was not a pretty site).

As I mentioned in the previous post, we did finally break down and purchase a generator.  Let me paint the picture for you on how that happened.

honda-generator

We had moved from our spot on South Beach at Padre Island to the campground at Bird Island Basin.  Our first night there was absolutely idyllic.  You remember the pictures of that beautiful sunset, right?  Well, little did we know as we gazed out over a tranquil lagoon watching the sun go down, that the weather was about to take a turn for the worst.  Without cell service, I was unable to keep up with the weather on a daily basis.  We found out the next day from fellow campers that things were going to go downhill weather-wise and fast.   Bird Island Basin is a wind-surfers paradise for a very good reason.  WIND!

We consider ourselves to be pretty hardy campers, having spent more than a few years’ tent camping and cold weather at night does not immediately register as cause for concern.  However, with the trailer things get a bit more complicated.  There is water involved, in pipes that might freeze.  And that is cause for concern!

pelican-2-over-laguna-madre

Loved watching those darn pelicans!

The wind was predicted to pick up and reach 30 – 40 mph gusts and the temperature was going to plummet over the next few hours.  And that’s exactly what happened.  We knew we were going to have to keep the furnace on all night to keep our pipes from freezing, and that it was going to put a strain on our batteries.  We discussed the situation and devised a plan.

Jim backed the truck up close to the hitch, and plugged it into the trailer.  We would be using the truck as an impromptu “generator”.  This is not an efficient or highly effective way to charge trailer batteries, but in an emergency, it will keep the batteries from discharging too much.  Jim would be getting up throughout the night to start up the truck, letting it idle for an hour at a time.

bird-island-basin

A calm Laguna Madre 🙂

The wind howled that first night, alarmingly shaking the trailer and, even though Jim was the one scrambling out of bed into the windy, frigid night every two hours, neither one of us got much sleep.  But, at least, I was warm under the covers!  Jim, on the other hand, was just a tad on the ugly side the next morning.  To say he was in a foul mood is the understatement of the century.  As you might guess, I did not have to launch much of an argument in favor of purchasing a generator.  I had finally brought him over to my side – under much duress but still.  This weather was to continue at least another day and night.  Home Depot, here we come!  We hightailed it into town, and HD had the very generator that we wanted in stock – a Honda super-quiet 2000w.

birds-at-bird-island-2

For a couple of weeks, I was blissfully happy now that I had the power to charge up all our necessary pieces of equipment.  We use the generator responsibly, and with the addition of our solar panels, it will be delegated to be our *emergency* back-up plan.

pelican-4-over-laguan-madre

Now, as often happens, one thing leads to another.  One problem was solved, but with our move to Big Bend, another one arose!

torrey-yucca

Yucca torreyi –  blooms can occur throughout the year and found in all parts of Big Bend

When I am finally in a remote area and camped in a spot with decent cell service, I still have the challenge of not being able to charge my laptop.  Big Bend National Park bans all generator use – in campgrounds as well as back-country.  We have our solar panels installed and hooked up, but can only use 12v. And, as a result, my blog postings have suffered once again!  When I do have a connection so that I can post, I have been frantically trying to upload everything before the laptop dies.   Quality suffers, and frustration takes over.  So, I have been forced to find outlets in the park in order to charge my electronics – and this is not always ideal.  Big Bend is not friendly towards allowing visitors access to electrical outlets.  I have found only two public outlets for use – one at the laundromat in Rio Grande Village – 20 miles from where we are camped.  And one at the Chisos Lodge next to a very hard, wooden bench – 10 miles from us.

vermillion-flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher – entertained us around our campsite at Cottonwood CG along the Rio Grande River

Since the internet access is resolved here at Big Bend National Park (we are in a spot with decent cell service), I finally decided it was time to upgrade the old technology and invest in a portable inverter.  This way I could take advantage of the energy we are generating from the solar panels and charge my laptop in the trailer.  I discussed my dilemma with my two sons, and then looked up some possible inverters online.  The one I found on Amazon was a Bestek 300W inverter that has two 110 receptacles and a couple of USB ports.

I contacted my son Luke via Facebook Messenger (the only way to reach a 24-year-old in this day and age) and told him I wanted to order a 12v to 110 inverter.  I did not think Amazon would ship parcel post, so I said I would ship it to him and then, he could send it to me via parcel post General Delivery to Big Bend Post Office.  Well, it turns out that he had the exact inverter that I thought would work for me.  So, I struck a deal with him!  I really wanted this thing fast, so I asked him to ship me his inverter, and I would purchase a new one for him as replacement.  A win-win situation for both of us!

rio-grande-along-the-hot-springs-canyon-trail

View of the Rio Grande River valley atop the ridge on the Hot Springs Canyon Trail

Two days later, I have the power inverter and just tested it out.  Hurrah! It seems to work and hopefully, it will mean I can stay connected and update my blog much more frequently!  Hoping to shake things up a bit, write shorter more frequent postings – and add some poetry.   What poetry???  I’ll tell you later how I  got inspired to give poetry a try 🙂

It really is the simple things in life that are the most satisfying, you know?   All’s well that ends well……

rio-grande-along-the-hot-springs-canyon-trail-2

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4 thoughts on “Power……

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