Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breaking Down the Costs: "A Work in Progress"

     It has become our habit to camp on the Boardman River just south of Traverse City each summer for a week.  It is an incredibly scenic and fairly remote location minutes from town.  Barb can commute to work from here; in fact it's only about a 15 minute drive.  She enjoys to be able to work and come home to camp in the woods as well as a home cooked meal each night.  The fishing can sometimes be worth it as well if I can manage to outsmart a few 'brookies'.    This was a pretty typical Northern Michigan week in the summer as rain and overcast/drizzly conditions for 2 of our 6 days kept Dharma, Bodhi, and myself inside more than we would like.  
     I decided to 'run the numbers' for this trip and see how our costs boiled down with solar vs. generator power for 6 days.  Power consumption was used for lights, music, TV, DVD, water pump, showering, flushing, and recharging our electronics.  We were in camp 142 hours this trip;  120 hours on solar and 22 on the generator.  Honda generator power was utilized to top off batteries on both overcast days, provide A/C relief several hours one day, and to pump 40 gallons of fresh water midweek.  As such 22 hours of generator equals 3 gallons of gas (yes, the Honda EU-3000 is this efficient) totaling $10.95 (@ $3.65 per gallon).  This equates to 86% of our total power consumption from solar and 14% from generator power, resulting in a total power cost of $1.82 per day.  If we were to use solely generator power for the same services our total cost would be $25.55 or $4.25 per day. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spiessbraten on the AusPit

     Never let it be said that I didn't want to create exceptional meals even when camping.  This trip is no exception.  This recipe utilized our AusPit Rotisserie and the best of German Cuisine.  The AusPit is a wonderful camping tool; simple to set up anywhere and battery powered off a single D cell that will last up to 90 hours!  It allows me to cook over wood, in this case maple, which is the best of all possible flavors.  This recipe is courtesy of Steven Raichlen's Primal Grill Website  It consists of a single Pork Tenderloin butterflied, inside wiped with chopped garlic, and stuffed with sliced onion. In addition I added Turkey Pepperoni slices and several slices of Provolone Cheese and seasoned the outside with Ground Cloves.  Tie shut tightly with butcher's twine.  Skewered over the wood fire for about 3 hours. Serve to grateful wife after a hard day at work returning to camp;  voila! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Boondocking Part 4: Technology & Communication

     Everybody wants to stay in touch while on the road just as much as at home and we are no different.  From email checking, to menu research and planning, as well as looking for that next campground, making business plans, and even social networking or maintaining this blog.  My wife and I both use IPhone 5s, but still wanted a laptop for our RV as a way to not only communicate, but to research, plan, and print.
     We purchased the DELL Inspiron 17R laptop with a 17" widescreen (NO notebook for us), the CANON OfficeJet 100 Bluetooth wireless printer, and utilize Verizon's Jetpack as our WiFi hotspot.  Additionally, we can tether our IPhones to the laptop as a WiFi hotspot if needed.  Powering such devices is not necessarily a difficult task, but it does need consideration.  All these have long life Lithium Ion batteries that will last for hours, but when charging is needed I try to coordinate it with running the generator for A/C, microwave, or topping off the main battery bank.   Of course hooking up to shore power at a campground solves this as well.  I keep them topped them off whenever possible.  Being online only a short time daily or when needed extends battery life.  We also utilize our SOLIO (see earlier post) solar powered mini-charger that will charge 3 phones, or any combination of (2) laptop, printer, or Jetpack.  A small power inverter can solve the DC/AC issue, but only a true sine wave inverter is the safest for electronics. 
     Of course the Jetpack is only as good as your cell phone signal strength as that is exactly what it is; another phone line.  Tethering our IPhones with the laptop costs $15/month and the Jetpack can supply WiFi to several systems for $20/month.  In the future I see myself investing in a directional WiFi antenna and possibly even a WiFi amplifier for those fringe areas.  Nothing, of course, beats logging on to report our travels, upload photos, or share menus at the nearest McDonalds or other free hot spot. 
     In the end though, being 'off the grid' means exactly that and as such we want to have the choice and power to communicate when and where we choose.  Joie de Vivre!