Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pork Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

     This dish is somewhat involved to prepare, but inevitably worth the effort.  Eggplant is one of those vegetables that requires understanding or even preparation in order to pursuade the diner to begin, and ultimately enjoy, the entire dining experience.  This meal combines many of the concepts of a "twice baked" meal..  This entree is the complete meal of protein, carbohydrates, and especially fiber. It is a splendid combination of lamb/pork, oregano, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, orzo, and cilantro.  For us this recipe lasted two days.  You can download this recipe at

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Brock & The Two Hearted River

     Sparty's first adventure post-retirement was to venture north in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to the mouth of the Two Hearted River.  This trip was the maiden voyage of the new truck towing our RV as well as our grandson's first camping trip!   This campground is located 30 miles NE of Newberry, Michigan.  The final 16 miles is a well maintained dirt road.  The campground features roomy sites, vault toilets, and a well to pump water.  We utilized solar power and generator as it did rain 2 days.  There is NO cell phone service anywhere near here.  This is completely about sandy beaches, clear water, and scenery.  Get away from it all!   

     This river was made famous years ago in Earnest Hemmingway's short story, "The Big Two Hearted River" in the book "Our Time".   This river is known nationwide as a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream, but I tend to venture there to search for Lake Superior Agates and other gems at the vast river mouth. 

     Brock enjoyed the trip, working hard to discover any stone that caught his eye, which numbered in the hundereds!  We enjoyed 5 days of wonderful fun, good food, and family fellowship even though it rained the last two days.  Final totals for the trip included 1 agate, a dozen nice samples of Jasper and Unakite and 13.5 mpg for the new truck! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Boondocking Part 3: Water

     If we are living the dream as we want to, then there will times when we are camping away from civilization, but still close to a water source.  By a water source I mean a clear running stream.  Lakes and ponds often contain far too much bacteria.  I have developed a remote pumping/filtering system that can provide clean water for the most basic functions while off the grid (OTG). 
     First of all such remote point of pumping systems should only be used for washing dishes, showering, and flushing the toilet.  There are, after all, the majority of all RV useage.  Drinking water is usually via bottled water or potable hook up.  This includes coffee preparation.
     The system begins with a series of hoses, several filter canisters, and a portable pump.  Although we are not talking purely potable water, non-white hoses can be used, but I still prefer the white ones.  At the point of pumping the first hose uses a drogue filter attachment entering the stream that reduces the debris often encountered.  I also cover the drogue with a microfiber bag for further filtering.  The point here is to place/mount the hose/drogue in a stream where it will remain suspended on a short lead while not allowing the drogue to touch or stir up the bottom. 
     Up hose the first filter is placed.  This is determined by the distance from stream to RV.  Try to avoid distances longer than 50 feet or 15 feet of elevation.  I use a series of 3 Culligan RFV-10 T-Filter canisters.  These accept the universally adaptable canister type filters.  The beauty of these is that they are relatively cheap and can be replaced when needed.  Each of these 3 filters increases the amount of filtering desired for reasonably safe water.  All are connected by several feet of hose. 
     Filter #1:  Culligan S-1  20 micron sediment filtering
     Filter #2:  Culligan CW-F 10 micron further sediment and purification filtering
     Filter #3:  Culligan D-10  5 micron final filtering w/Sodium Dichlor
     The last filter (#3) is also preloaded with 1/4 teaspoon of granulated Sodium Dichlor.  I add this prior to loading the canister filter and sealing.  It will last one 40 gallon pump cycle.  Sodium Dichlor is the basic chemical used to sterilize hot tubs and spas.  It will provide enough pressurized chlorination to sterilize the water and yet is safe for human use.  I chose this alternative over a basic chlorine bleach mixture.  Additionally I use the mixture seasonally whenever I sterilize the fresh water tank, after winterization, or just to 'reset' the tank. 
NOTE:  There are always finer filters that provide filtering down to .5 microns and also claim to elimninate Cryptosporidium and Giardia.  You need to know that with each level of filtering the line pressure will decrease resulting in longer tank fill times.  I believe that I have found the most reasonable combination. 
    Of course the entire system depends on a means to transfer the water from the remote source to the RV.  I chose the Wayne 1/2 HP Transfer Pump.  It runs off the Honda generator and provides pumping at 50 psi.  It provides effective pumping up to 15 feet elevation from the source.  This will fill our 40 gallon fresh water tank in about 10 minutes. 
      The last measure of purfication I use is to measure the purity of my water at the tap via a water purification tester.  Many different products are available.  I look for my water to be no more than 300 ppm.  I have never exceeded 185 ppm. with our remote pumping system.  You should always check your tap water even when hooked up to a potable source. You would be surprised at water purity sometimes. 
     Water use can also be further conserved by saving a gallon or two of your grey water drainage in storage jugs.  These can be used to manually flush the toilet w/o the pump.  You would be surprised that you use about a gallon a day for flushing.  I use a couple of old plastic ice tea jugs PROPERLY LABELED for this. 
     Also, never underestimate the power of a good rain shower.  Rainwater is a very pure form of water.  I have 6 small plastic buckets I place out in random locations away from trees when a good rain shower is anticipated.  You can collect up to 2 gallons of water with this simple method.  I prefer rain showers as a downpour will not only splash water out of the bucket, but often splashes debris into the buckets as well.  


Saturday, June 1, 2013

SOLIO Classic 2 Portable Solar Charger for your electronics

     Utilizing solar for portable camping use for your electronics is another matter.  I wanted something that I could use around camp or at the beach, in the mountains, or on the trail.  I have used the SCOSCHE Sol-Bat for several years with good results, but they burn out after about 2 years.  It provided a single charge for my phone, but took up to 4 days to recharge via solar so I carried several.   Cost:  $19.
     I recently purchased the SOLIO Classic 2 portable solar charger.  It will charge either via the USB port on your laptop or in sunlight in as little as 6-10 hours.  About the size of your wallet folded up and fans out into 3 Polycrystalline Solar Panels supported by a simple pencil, this unit will hold a charge for a year and provides enough storage to provide a single charge to your laptop or 3 charges to an IPhone.  Cost:  $80-$100 and is available at or you can purchase it much cheaper at