Reflections

Of a Month Gone By

Well, today marks the one-month point since our arrival here on our land.  Part of me exclaims “A month! It flew by!” While at the same time, another part of me feels ever hour of every day that has passed.

Progress Report

In this one month, we have accomplished a great many things.

 

installing linoleumFlooring. We put a piece of linoleum down before we could even move in. We borrowed a flatbed trailer from our neighbor whom we had known for about 12 hours. I am continually floored by how generous and trusting the people out here are.

After fetching the flooring, trimming and gluing it down by the door, we were able to finally start moving our stuff out of the trailer and into our home. There is still far too much stuff in that trailer to make it easy to get in and out of, but we’re making steady progress.

 

IMG_3260Insulation. Before I could start building my “power wall,” I had to install some of the insulation in the wall cavities. I put it up and added some vapor barrier (which the cats have shredded several times!!) After we got the power system up and running, I got insulation in all but seven of the wall cavities.

 

 

IMG_2162Power. I had been planning this solar power system for the last six months. I finally got the opportunity to dig all the components out of the trailer and start assembling them into a working system. We have eight batteries, an inverter, four solar panels, a generator and lots of other electrical goodies to link them all together.

One thing that I have done that is not terribly common out here is that I installed an automatic transfer switch. This way, when I turn on my generator, the entire house automatically switches over from using power from the batteries to using power from the generator. At the same time, I’ve got a battery charger connected to the generator so that the batteries are being topped off at the same time.

 

IMG_2201Storage.  One of the things I made sure to bring with us from Ohio was a set of shelves that I got from one of my previous employers. It’s really beefy and can handle quite a load on the shelves. It was a bit of a challenge getting them assembled, since they don’t have a lot of structural stability until they are almost completely put together and then they suddenly turn into a rigid structure. We use them mostly for food storage, and as we get more storage options in here, we will be able to start making a more sensible use of the space, as well.

 

water tankWater. Water is a very precious commodity out here. Perhaps that’s why I’m a little bit peeved at how many people are currently dumping gallons of potable water on people’s heads in the 2014 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Because of a tip from our new neighbors, we were able to get a used 2500-gallon water tank for $800! We borrowed the trailer again and hauled it home.

IMG_2202After a few more trips to Lowe’s in town, I got the water and drain lines plumbed into a laundry sink that I put a kitchen faucet on, and set up our 12VDC water pump. We don’t have hot water yet, unless the sun is shining on the pipes on the side of the building. Then we have about 10 seconds of hot water before it flows cold again. If we need more than that, we just boil some on the stove.

 

10575917_10203590086206057_680418290_nCommunity. Linda and I have been continually amazed at how friendly, helpful and generous the people who live near us are. In the month that we’ve been here, we’ve met quite a few people: Bree & Tee, Jim & Dee, Jeff & Sandy, Matt & Andrea (and their son Tavis), Brian & Dana (and their kids BJ, Erik and Megan), Marty, Justin & Sarah (and their son Isaac), Dave (the local deputy Sheriff), and a few others.

These people have been helping us left and right, giving us advice as well as a hand with physical tasks that I can’t handle on my own or with Linda’s help. We’ve started going to First Baptist Church in Dell City, and have met another large group of very loving, helpful people. I’ve been pitching in, as well. I’ve helped my local friends with many projects from solar hookups to helping with some septic and plumbing issues. I’m very thankful for those whom I’ve met. I had planned to do everything myself when we got here, but it’s becoming clear that it’s a much better prospect to ask help (and give it in return) from my neighbors.

11Chad and lindas wacky network

Click Image for Larger Version

INTERNET!! (Well, sorta). Our neighbors’ wifi is just barely within range of us. I set up a wireless extender (with their permission, of course) so that we can get on the Internet via their connection. It’s slow and because of the crazy way I had to set it up, sometimes is unstable or just plain quits, but it gets us on the net so that we can stay in contact with our friends and family.

 

IMG_2195Entertainment. Because I am taking time off to allow the tendons in my right elbow to heal, I felt it was important to get our media center and home theater set up. This way, I can pass the time by watching a TV show or a movie in addition to reading books on my e-reader. It helps me pass the time.

However, since the home theater equipment is very power-hungry, I’ve connected it to the generator-only power source. This means that if we want to watch TV, we have to run the generator. Since we don’t do it that often, it’s a reasonable requirement. I don’t want to run the genny all the time since fuel is so expensive, but a couple hours every few days while I’m healing isn’t too bad…and my batteries get a good charge, too.

IMG_2197Vehicle Maintenance. Just a couple days ago, the radiator on the Jeep sprung a leak so severe that I usually use the word “exploded” to describe the failure. Thankfully, we were only a few miles from home when we discovered it, and I was able to get home without overheating the engine.

Since our finances are severely limited, we won’t be able to purchase a replacement radiator until September 2, and I will ask one of my neighbors to come help me install it since my arm is still “off limits.” One of our neighbors, Jeff, came over yesterday and we removed the radiator from the Jeep to verify that it was, in fact, a failed radiator.  Once we got it out, it was clear that it had been “about to blow” for some time, and that we were extremely lucky that it did not fail while we were stressing the engine towing 9,000lb when our towing capacity was only 5000.

Looking Ahead

There still are a number of things that need to happen to make our home “complete.”

Closing off the attic. The cats are making a mess of the lofts. They go up there and do “cat things” in the middle of the night.  So, we’ve decided to close off the lofts and turn it into attic space. I will need a few 2x6x12s, some plywood sheeting and a set of pull-down attic stairs. Once installed, we will be able to access the lofts. Right now, my ladder isn’t tall enough for me to safely climb up there, so we’ve been tossing things up there one-by-one when we decide that we won’t need them for a long time.

Completing the insulation. Once the ceiling is closed off, I can start putting insulation in the ceiling cavities as well. This will allow us to heat and cool a much smaller space, which should save us a lot of energy, particularly in winter when the heat would tend to rise up into the loft areas where we can’t use it.

Solar and Propane water heat. We really don’t like having to boil water to bathe or do dishes.  It’s just annoying. So I plan to install an on-demand tankless propane water heater. Since we have lots of sun out here, I will put a solar water heater before the propane heater so that the water is pre-heated and in many cases, we won’t need to use the propane heater at all, except at night. In fact, the solar water heat is so effective, that you have to install a tempering valve to keep the water temperature at the tap from scalding you.

Better bathing. Right now, we take our baths on the front porch with a bucket of soapy water on the right and a bucket of clean water on the left. It’s amazing that we can take a complete bath in just under 1 gallon of water each! However, people are liable to drop in for a visit unannounced since phone coverage is abysmal out here. We have not yet been caught in our birthday suits, but that’s inevitable. Also, with winter coming, I don’t think Linda will want to bathe in subfreezing temperatures. Come to think of it, I don’t either.

Refrigeration Upgrades. Right now, we are making do with a 1.7-cubic foot refrigerator that just barely keeps the few things we need cold that way. We had toyed with the idea of an RV refrigerator so that it could be run on propane, but they are prohibitively expensive to buy new, and with modern Energy Star appliances, we can get a standard electric refrigerator that consumes about 100W and would be almost as large as the one we left behind in Ohio. The small refrigerator we use now uses 40W, so we would get far more than 2.5 times the capacity for 2.5 times the power cost. This means that we will need to be even more careful with our power consumption, as well.

Proper Internet. We are extremely grateful to our neighbors for allowing us to use their Internet.  However, even if it weren’t a crazy mess of wires and NAT, I would not feel right in using their internet as our long-term solution. So, we plan to get connected with one of the satellite providers out here, preferably Exede. This means that we will have much faster access than we do now, but since it will be metered, we will need to be careful of what we do — we won’t be watching hours of YouTube videos or subscribing to Hulu, that’s for sure.

Cellular Repeater. Being able to reach people by phone is important. Our cell phones get juuuuuust enough signal here at our cabin to tease us. They will download a couple emails here and there, and we will get the occasional Facebook notification. Sometimes, we can even make a short phone call.  However, that’s not really enough. I’d like to get a cellular repeater and mount it to a pole on the top of the cabin so that we can get full-strength signal here at the house.  This is important so that we can make calls to keep in touch, handle personal business, or even make a call for help if it’s needed.

Power Upgrades. We’re already seeing that our power system needs to grow.  If we keep to the best practices and do our best to keep our batteries healthy for as long as possible, we need to add a few more solar panels, a few more batteries and upgrade our inverter to a pure-sine design so that we aren’t stressing the electronics in our devices. These are expensive upgrades and will likely require that I take a short-term job at some point to finance them.

Closing Thoughts

There are many things that still need to be done.  However, I think that I’ve gotten a whole lot done in the one month that we’ve been here, and the basics that I’ve got set up already will give us the time and flexibility we need to plan out the right sequence for our future projects so that we can minimize wasted money, materials, effort and time.

Posted in accomplished, alternative energy, catch up, engine, FML, homestead, Jeep, off-grid, Personal Updates | 4 Comments

Creature Comforts

Making Things a Little More “Normal.”

285_2879575Since I’m taking at least a week off to allow the tendons in my right elbow to heal, I worked on a couple of smaller projects that didn’t require very much gripping, pulling or tugging from my right hand.

 

 

 

 

Backstory

Before we left Ohio, I set up our Media Center to run on a Raspberry Pi connected to a 12TB NAS and a computer monitor. Shortly after we arrived, one of our cats nearly got himself sent to the nearest Chinese restaurant. Our cats have discovered that they like to hang out in the lofts in the cabin, and that the easiest way up there is where the ceiling meets the walls. There is a small gap that they can squeeze through to gain access.

One day, our dogs were harassing our cats (big surprise, right?) and Junior jumped up on the table that held our monitor so that he could escape to the loft. Since he was freaking out, he had a “gracefulness score” of about NEGATIVE 827. He knocked the monitor off the table and it landed right on a couple of my batteries, bTh-evil-cat-lilycracking the screen and rendering the monitor junk. Thankfully, one of our new neighbors had a spare that they could not use and gave it to us. I brought it home and set it up.

 

AND THE DAMNED CAT KNOCKED IT OFF AGAIN! 

This time, however, there was no damage.  In response, I got out my screw gun and fastened the monitor to the table, and installed a safety strap from the table to the wall. There’s no way that darned cat will do that again!

 

Surrounded By Sound

Since I am basically stuck in the house because I can’t work on physical projects and we’re out of cash, I decided to set up our SurroundSound system.  IMG_2195I dug out the receiver and speakers and got everything connected except for the rear speakers (since I have to run wires over the ceiling). As a test, we watched A.I. Artificial Intelligence last night. I like that movie quite a bit.  Honestly, though, my favorite character in the movie was the SuperToy, Teddy.

 

 

Printing and WiFi Hijinks

11Chad and lindas wacky network

Click image for larger version

In addition to the surround sound system, I dug out our HP Laserjet Pro CP1525nw color printer. Since it uses a fair amount of power, we will leave it turned off most of the time.  However, should we need to print something, we can fire it up and have it ready in only about a minute.

We now have Internet access available to all our Internet-capable devices. However, the rats nest of wires and levels of NAT would make even the most junior network engineers cry.

Since my Time Capsule is using its 2.4GHz band to talk to the neighbor’s router that uses Network Address Translation (NAT) (192.168.2.x/24), it can only supply the extended WiFi on the 5GHz band.  Unfortunately, of all our devices, only my MacBook Pro can receive 5GHz. So, I share that 5GHz to the ethernet port on my Mac and it does NAT (192.168.3.x/24) so that my media center and other ethernet connected devices can access the net. Then, I use Linda’s MacBook to share the ethernet connection back out via a 2.4GHz wireless band NAT (10.0.2.x/24) so that the iOS and other 2.4GHz-only wireless devices can get access.

For the iPads, iPhones and my e-reader, that’s THREE levels of NAT and generally more than one is considered a “bad idea.” However, this was the only way (with the tech I have on-hand) to get internet access to all of my devices.  This will certainly NOT be the final solution, but for now, it works for us since we usually just do browsing.

Posted in accomplished, funny, improvised technology | 3 Comments

Time For A Little R&R

Taking a Break

Well, it seems that it’s time for me to take a break from all the projects that I have going. I’ve taken the discomfort in my right elbow too far and now I need to lay off for a bit.

The Right Hand Didn’t Know What the Left was Doing

Last year, I started developing a pain in my left elbow that got worse when I was grasping things.  I thought it was just a little bit of tendonitis, until I finally had enough of the pain and went to see Dr. Steine at Beacon Orthopaedics in Cincinnati. It turned out that it was more than just tendonitis. An ultrasound of my elbow revealed that I had a partially detached ligament that was scarring up and causing the pain.

We decided to do a procedure called Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) to help the torn tendon heal. After two treatments and a few months of physical therapy, my left arm and grip were stronger than they ever were!  I can’t recommend the physicians at Beacon enough if you have a sports or bone injury.  They rock!

With all the extreme physical activity that I’ve been doing to turn our cabin from a shell into a home, I’ve managed to cause a similar injury in my right elbow. The pain is exactly the same as before, only this time, I don’t have any medical insurance to fall back on to have that procedure done again.

Effie, Brace Yourself!

IMG_2194Since the injury is exacerbated by gripping, pulling and tugging with the hand of the affected arm, I have to completely stop using my right hand for just about everything. Since my right hand is my dominant one, I decided that a reminder of the restriction would be a good idea. So, I am now wearing this wrist brace. It very effectively limits my ability to grasp anything, so I should be able to avoid gripping, pulling and tugging with it on.

I’ll need to avoid anything that can upset it for several days, probably a week. Then, I will start doing the physical therapy exercises that I was prescribed after my left elbow was operated on.

What Lies Ahead

I have always been extremely right-handed.  Sometimes I think that my left hand was included only so that I had bilateral symmetry. Learning to use my left hand for everything is going to be quite a challenge. I’ll also need to make sure that I don’t overdo it on the left side and reinjure it.

Thankfully, I’ve got our media center up and running, and due to a huge blessing from one of our neighbors, we have limited internet access in our cabin. This will give me time to do some research on upcoming projects, as well as take some more time to keep the blog updated with interesting observations and stories about our life out here.

Posted in FML, Personal Updates | 1 Comment

We Gonna Rock Onto …

Electric Avenue

Several people have asked questions about our electrical system. So, I figure I’d show you around a bit. But first let’s talk about philosophy a while.

Why Off The Grid?

Two power systems diverged
In the West Texas Desert.
And I, I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

We have the option of getting electric power from the local Rio Grande Electric Coop. However, Linda and I decided that we wanted to power our lives with solar panels. This created some very interesting choices for us and some drastic changes in the way we do things. Some people are under the mistaken impression that “going solar” is cheaper than being grid-tied. Au contraire mon frère, it’s more expensive in several ways.

In just about every way, being grid-tied is cheaper. Even when you consider the costs of having the power run to your house from the nearest pole. I have thousands of dollars tied up in our solar system, and it’s considered to be relatively small. Those of us who are grid-tied tend to become very wasteful of energy because it’s really cheap. If a plastic fork cost $5 instead of $0.05, you’d be very careful about just throwing it away after every meal, wouldn’t you? Well, power out here on our system is the same way.

So… Why Off The Grid?

Our lives were governed by schedules and by services that we had to pay for. Being tied to the electric grid represents that paradigm that we are trying to leave behind. So, we are prepared to sacrifice some of the creature comforts that the “old way” made so easy, because we felt that it was a trap. Since power is so cheap, you tend to accumulate those things that are wasteful. And, since you have such power-hungry devices and appliances, you can’t just “install solar” to power it. It’s another one of those cycles that are self-reinforcing. So, we decided to “rip the band-aid off” and go all solar and just be very, very, very energy-conscious.

The System

  • IMG_2162IMG_2159IMG_2160Four 230 watt of 24-volt solar panels (920w total)
  • Eight U.S. Battery 1800XC2 6v 208Ah batteries wired as 832Ah @ 12v
  • Midnight Solar Classic 150 Solar Charge Controller
  • Harbor Freight 12v 2000/4000w DC to AC Inverter
  • PowerMax 100A Battery Charger
  • 30A Automatic Transfer Switch
  • 3200w Electric Start Gasoline generator

Wow! You say? That’s a lot of power? Not really. Not compared to what most people use. Your power is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) I measure mine in watt-hours (Wh), which is a 1000-fold difference. When we lived in Ohio, we were paying $0.03 per kWh. So, if I used 100 kWh in a day, it only cost me $3. Here, I can budget only 2kWh per day. Trying to calculate the cost of that 2kWh is difficult since my energy is renewable – that cost goes down a little bit every day. But you can see that with only 2kWh per day available to me, I can’t just leave the lights on and use a 1kW microwave oven to make popcorn.

 

 

Lifestyle Changes

I was never a morning person. You’d have to peel me out of the bed and throw me into the shower every morning before work. Now, since electricity is so precious, we don’t stay up late anymore since that would mean using electric lights. So, we go to bed at dark. As a consequence, we wake up automatically at sunrise. I don’t need to set an alarm, and I jump right out of bed.

We try not to use electric power through the day, since we need that power to run our refrigerator and our CPAP machines at night. Just those two things will consume most of our battery budget for a day. The next morning, when the solar panels start making power we are able to use more energy, but need to stay mindful of our consumption so that the batteries can be recharged fully before the end of the day. Sure, we have the generator, but we consider that to be a fall-back option, and we will do everything within our power to avoid running the generator. It burns gasoline. If you have not noticed, that stuff is really expensive these days!

…And Then We’ll Take it Higher…

We eventually want to install a wind turbine in addition to the solar panels. Most of the time there is a breeze out here, and we could be making power around the clock with a wind turbine. We’ll need to construct a tower to install it on, ideally around 30 feet above the ground. However, most of the wind turbine installations in this area are in the 15-20 foot range, so we may elect to go with the lower height to save on cost and engineering complexity. There is some additional cost involved with setting up a turbine, too. We will need to get an additional charge controller that can handle the output of the turbine, and we will need to find a turbine that is right for the wind out here as well as our power needs. Once we have a turbine up, we can use more power since we can replenish it. We will also want to add a few more batteries to the system so that our capacity is a bit higher when we don’t have the solar or wind making power.

Posted in alternative energy, off-grid, sustainable | 1 Comment

The First Week

July 31, 2014 – August 7, 2014

Notable Events this Week

Flooring

installing linoleumWe went into town and bought a nice sheet of linoleum. Our new friends, Jim and Dee were kind enough to lend us their trailer so we could haul it and several packages of insulation. We quickly emptied out the cabin and installed the flooring, then started moving back in again.

 

 

Power

IMG_3264Before I put the insulation in, I needed to run the electrical wiring.  So, I drilled holes in the walls and ran the wires. Boy, did that make a mess! We are still collecting wood chips on our socks! Once that was done, I put up a few pieces of insulation and installed the “power board.” I mounted the inverter, breaker boxes, automatic transfer switch and solar charge controller. I drilled a hole in the wall and put a piece of conduit through it so I could pass the cables from the solar panels and the generator in order to hook them up

Insulation

After the power was up and running, I put up about half the insulation.  There is still quite a bit more to do, and since the cats like to jump up into the loft, they keep disturbing the vapor barrier.  We’re going to need to get the wallboard and ceilings up soon to prevent additional damage!

Agua Para Nosotros

water tankThanks again to Jim and Dee, we were given a lead on a used water tank. We stopped in and got a 2500 gallon tank for $800! Once again, Jim loaned us his trailer. We took it back to the house and were advised that we should strap it down to something until we get some water in it — They told us a story of clocking a neighbor’s tank rolling uphill at 25 MPH due to the wind!  So, I grabbed my ratchet straps and attached it to the telephone pole at the edge of the road. That won’t be its final location, but it will do for now!

Vinegaroon

IMG_2108We encountered a strange creature called a Vinegaroon. It’s a nocturnal insect-eating insect, and we saw one crawling around near the porch one night just after Tracey and Mark left. At first, I thought it was a scorpion due to its size and the way that it walked. But since it didn’t have the classic “scorpion tail,” I figured it must not be.  Apparently, these guys will use a defensive spray that has a strong vinegar odor (hence the name) and apparently is very uncomfortable if you get it in your eyes.

 

The New Tradition

linda first coffee sunriseThe morning after Tracey and Mark left, Linda and I started a new tradition of getting up and watching the sunrise over coffee. The first couple of days were rather cloudy, but we have gotten some really spectacular sunrises since. The pictures really can’t do it justice.

 

 

New Friends

10575917_10203590086206057_680418290_nIn our first week, we met Brie and Tee, whom we’ve been Facebook friends with for close to two years. It was nice to finally put some faces and voices to the names and messages we’ve exchanged over all this time.  Also, we met Jim and Dee. They were they ones who helped us get the cabin located on our property before we arrived. The people out here are friendly and eager to help us.  I think that we’ve got quite a good support group started, and I can’t wait to meet even more of the locals. Linda and I are planning to attend church on the 10th in Dell City. Hopefully we can meet some more people there, too.

Post Office

post office dell cityWe stopped by the Dell City post office to get our P.O. Box situated. This place is TINY! It’s just big enough for a single window and a wall full of PO boxes. We pair for 6 months in advance. Eventually, we will get a rural mailbox posted out at the edge of the road and we won’t have to drive 50 miles round trip to get our mail. So, we will probably only check it once a week when we are in town for other things. If you need our address to send us something, please contact us via email or Facebook so that we can get it to you.

It still feels like we are “roughing it.” I think that once we get some more shelves in here and get some running water from our water tank, it will feel a little more “normal.”

Posted in accomplished, alternative energy, catch up, frugal, homestead, improvised technology, off-grid, Personal Updates, sustainable | 4 Comments

Home, Home on the Range

Cincinnati to Texas, Day 5: Carlsbad, NM to Cornudas, TX (July 31, 2014)

Rumble in the Night

I had been fighting a headache ever since arriving, which I blamed on the altitude. When I have a nasty headache, I like to sit in the shower and let the water wash over my head.  It always seems to help. While I was in the shower, a very violent thunderstorm rolled in. I honestly have not experienced a thunderstorm this violent in a great number of years. The lightning was very close. The thunder literally made the building shake, as though we were in some kind of warzone. Thankfully, my headache abated, and I have little trouble sleeping through thunderstorms.

4 AM Again…NOT!

Because we didn’t need to drive all day long, we slept in!  We got up at about 6AM and started packing up our stuff. By this time, we were pretty good at getting all our stuff and our cats loaded into carriers. Because of the way the bed frames were constructed, it was pretty easy to wrangle all the cats into their carriers.  In fact, I sustained no injuries whatsoever!

Joining Forces

We met Tracey and Mark at their motel which was just outside Carlsbad Caverns. Since they were 20 miles west of us, we decided to meet them rather than having them come all the way back to Carlsbad to meet us at our room. The little “village” was very “touristy,” but it wasn’t very busy since we were there in the middle of the week during the hottest part of the year.

El Paso – Not the City

mountain passHoly Moly! We pulled up some pretty serious hills! When you combine the altitude with the weight we were pulling, we slowed down to around 25MPH at the worst of it.  It’s no wonder!  When we got to the highest point on the climb, we were at 5697 ft! Carlsbad is at about 3200 ft, so we climbed 2500 feet before we got to the top of the pass.

After we got over the pass, we headed down some pretty serious grades.  The western side of that pass is far steeper than when you are coming from Carlsbad.  If I were climbing that hill with this load, I might only be able to manage 15 MPH or even less. Since our property is at about 4200 feet, we had to shed 1500 feet before we arrived.  I’d say we lost most of it on that one hill.

Home again, Home again, Jiggity Jig

pulling into cabinAfter passing Salt Flat and the turnoff for Dell City, we finally reached the intersection of 62/180 and RM1111. About a mile after that, we arrived at the turnoff for our property. We turned into the dirt road and made our way to the fourth turn. This is our “street.” After cresting the hill, our little cabin came into view.

We pulled into the property and placed the trailer near the front entrance to the cabin. We had finally made it home.

Trip Statistics

Since we were unable to immediately refuel after arriving, I didn’t collect data on fuel economy for this leg of the trip.

Posted in accomplished, homestead, Jeep, Personal Updates, Texas Trip | Leave a comment

The Tourist Trap

Cincinnati to Texas, Day 4: Wichita Falls, TX to Carlsbad, NM (July 30, 2014)

4 AM Comes at the Same Time Every Day

Are you surprised? Yes, we got up at 4 AM again. We were really ready to leave Wichita Falls.  The section of town that we were staying in was a real dump. The parking area and the exterior of the building were awful. It’s clear that the highway flyovers they put in here killed the motel industry on this side of town. Strangely, the inside of the room was fairly nice, but you could tell that this motel had seen better days and that they were just polishing a turd.

A CATastrophe

IMG_3107

You’d think that after this many iterations, the cats would just gleefully jump into their carriers. HA! I had to turn the room upside down and inside out again so that I could wrangle Junior and Little Miss. Squeak, was pretty easy, I have to say.  I think he finally just gave up on the “resisting” idea.

 

Goodbye, Interstates!

Well, I-44 ends in Wichita Falls. From here on out, we will be taking U.S. and State routes to our new home. The driving has gone pretty well on the interstates. Frankly, I’m a little worried about taking highways. We loaded up the Jeep in the rain. I was rather annoyed about it. We stopped at a local convenient store to grab some drinks before we headed out. The clerk told me that the rain was very welcome since they were in a Level 5 drought, and that some businesses in the area had to shut down due to water shortages and restrictions.  I told her that we brought the rain with us from Ohio.

82, 82, 82…

IMG_2064We got on  US 82 in Wichita Falls and took it all the way to Carlsbad.  We really didn’t even have to watch too carefully for twists and turns in the road. It was all very well marked. There was little traffic, but plenty of passing zones for the few people that came up behind us on the way.

 

Getting Throttled

IMG_3173Once we got past Lubbock, we started climbing again.  These hills were not steep, but long. Some of them had to be 10 miles or more of a gentle slope. But hey, I was way overweight and now I’m climbing in elevation and my power levels are going down! I spent a lot of time with my foot on the floor just trying to maintain speed. And that’s when I got “the code.”

My check engine light sat there, illuminated. It was mocking me. We were coming into a town that had an O’Reilly Auto parts in it. So, I stopped and checked the code. It was complaining about the throttle position sensor and that it had “high input” for too long.  Considering that I had just spent the last 30 minutes with my foot on the floor, I figured it was just a fluke and cleared the code.

Welcome to Carlsbad. Yes, it’s 105F.

Wow. This is HOT. We arrived in Carlsbad around 2pm and it was HOT, HOT, HOT. The Jeep’s display said that it was 105F outside. After we checked into the room, we were absolutely exhausted.  We concluded that it was a combination of the long drive, the heat, and the altitude causing the extreme fatigue. After we rested for about an hour, I had to run out to get some more cat food. We slightly miscalculated how much we needed to have on-hand for the trip and the rest was packed away in the trailer.

When I got out of the Jeep at the store, I realized that while it was 105F out there, it was very, very dry. I looked at the weather app on my phone and it was 42% humidity.  Back in Cincinnati at that same time, it was reporting 75%. I realized that I wasn’t dying out here. Holy smokes! I was right! The dryness actually allows me to stay cool!

After fetching the cat food, we came back to the room and made contact with Tracey. It turns out that she was staying in a motel about 20 miles west of us, so we would get started in the morning and meet up with her there…and then make the final push to our property.

Trip Statistics (Final)

Day 4:

Miles Driven today: 400.0
Total Fuel Consumed:  51.79G
Total Fuel Expense: $178.45
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.3445
Average MPG: 7.72

 

Whole Trip So Far:

Miles Driven: 1464.8
Total Fuel Consumed:  189.36G
Total Fuel Expense: $638.48
Average Fuel Cost/gal: $3.372
Average MPG: 7.74

 

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