Archive for the 'Quartzsite 2007' Category

Jan 15 2007

Quartzsite – Day Brrrrrr

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Wouldn’t you know it. We come to the desert southwest to escape the cold and the whole area has the coldest weather in 20 years! No fair!

I have a thermometer that records the high and low temperatures and Saturday night’s low was 18.5. Last night was warmer — only 19.8! Fortunately, we are warm as long as we burn lots of propane. We went through a 9 gallon bottle in 2 days, but that’s not really too bad. Even though the temperature has not been above 50 in the past 3 days, the furnace only runs in the early morning, late in the afternoon and during the evening. At night we set the thermostat down to 50 and the furnace does not come on until about 4:30 in the morning. It then cycles every half hour or so for a few minutes until it automatically sets up at 7:30. By 9 we are back up to 72 and the sun is shining brightly. We open all the shades and let the sun warm the inside of the trailer.

The solar system is working very well. I now have 4 of the 5 panels tilted toward the sun. The 5th panel is too close to one of the others so it would cast a shadow if I tilted it more than a few degrees. I have chosen to leave that one flat for the time being. We run the generator for about 45 minutes the first thing in the morning while we make coffee. We also run the electric space heater to try to get it warmed up a little faster. After that we let the solar do it’s thing alone and it has fully charged the batteries by early afternoon, even though we are on the computer and/or watching TV as well. It is generating about 730 watts of power between 11 and 2, and more than we need until about 4PM. If it were not for the very cold weather and the desire to get it warmed up faster by running the electric heater, there would be no reason to run the generator at all.

So, the solar setup is working very well. It will provide all the electricity we need as long as the sun shines, and we have enough battery capacity to see us through at least one cloudy day. Since the sun is near the lowest it ever gets in the sky and the days are short, we should be all set. If we can make it off solar alone now the summer should be a cinch, especially in Alaska.

We have not been doing much because of the cold. We have been to town a couple times for propane, water and a few groceries, but have not visited any more of the shops. Next week the big RV show runs in the Big Tent, so we hope things have warmed up by then. We did go to Parker Saturday night for dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant that was OK.

That’s about it from here. We are just staying warm, watching TV, playing on the computer, taking daily walks in the desert and working hard at being retired. Dianna has also rediscovered cross-stitch and is reading more when we don’t have the computer on. Life is good.

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Jan 09 2007

Quartzsite – Day 3

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We are settling in to boondocking in the desert. The weather has been really nice. The highs are in the low 70′s and the overnight lows are about 40. The wind has blown a little but not too bad. In the mornings before any wind I have been working and walking outside in a sweatshirt when the temperature is still only in the low 50′s. The sun is really warm and the dry climate feels so good.

This is what it looks like out here. There is a lot of nothing. That is our truck and trailer in the center of the photo. Opinions vary about whether or not the starkness has a beauty of its own.

Boondocking at Quartzsite

We have been keeping busy with daily hikes and also have gone into town each day to wander through a different shopping area. Lots of the booths have the same stuff, but there is also some variety. It really feels like a big state fair or a huge swap meet. We had some of the best kettle corn we have ever eaten at one of the stands.

I purchased a tilt mount for one of the solar panels yesterday and installed it this morning. With just the one panel tilted it increased the wattage by about 20%. Previously the highest wattage output was 423. After tilting just one panel we achieved 506. This afternoon we went into town and purchased tilt mounts for the remaining 4 panels. It will take a couple days to get them all installed, but I am greatly encouraged. Today we ran the generator for only about half an hour during breakfast and by late afternoon the batteries were fully charged. I am confident that getting the rest of the panels tilted will provide us with enough charging capacity that we will rarely need to run the generator at all. About the only time it will be needed is when we run the convection oven for an extended period of time. Since we do not have a gas oven we have no other way to bake or roast except for the gas bar-b-que which has its limitations too.

Dianna is still not sure about this whole way of living. Even though the rig is set up for self contained living, it does have some limitations and things you need to remember. For example, the big overhead florescent light does not work unless we are plugged in or running the generator. She is not happy about the placement of the 12 volt florescent lights so I may have to add some to make her happy. She is also used to playing internet games on the computer for several hours every day and we don’t have the electric power for her to do that yet. After the panels all get tilted we may, but I think she is going through Pogo withdrawal.

We may have to go get water tomorrow. The trailer holds 70 gallons and I have a water bladder that holds 45 gallons that I can take on the back of the truck to a water source. We can probably go for at least a couple weeks without dumping our holding tanks. I have been toying with the idea of finding a large tank I could mount on the truck that would be used to haul wastewater to a dump site as well. If I could find something like that we would not have to move the trailer at all. Only time will tell how it all works out.

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Jan 07 2007

Quartzsite – Day 1

Published by under Quartzsite 2007

We left Mesa yesterday and drove to Quartzsite, AZ. We parked in an area about 6 miles north of the town near Plomosa Road. There is no charge to stay here, but technically we can only stay for 14 days without moving. Talking with some of the regulars leads us to believe that no one really checks to see how long you are in one spot so it’s really not an issue.

Our first day has not been without its adjustment challenges. We used far more power than I expected last night and our solar panels could not recharge the batteries without help from the generator. I have determined that a large part of the problem is the fact that the panels are laying flat on the roof with no way to tilt them toward the sun. The sun never gets more than about 45 degrees above the horizon this time of year so we are only getting about half the amount of power the panels are capable of producing. Tomorrow we will visit some of the solar dealers in town to see what mounting systems they have available. We really do not want to run the generator any more than necessary.

The other issue that really could become problematic is the lack of a gas oven. We have known this would be an issue, but it is really coming to the forefront. The only way for us to bake or roast is to start the generator and use the convection oven. Right now it is not too much of a problem since we need to run the generator to fully charge the batteries, but it will become an issue when we get the solar panels putting out more. We know how to fix the problem. All it takes is money!

While in town today we wandered through one of the sales areas. The town is full of what can best be described as swap meets. Lots of booths set up under tents, selling lots of stuff. Fun to browse anyway.

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