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Thursday, April 30, 2015

How Much Cash?

How much cash do you keep on hand?

The picture above shows what I currently have in my wallet and pocket.  It is not possible to go cashless on my travels but  it is possible to use a small amount of cash on the total trip.


I would have saved using a lot of cash if I had brought my checkbook.  Campgrounds that only took cash would take checks, but I made a decision not to take a checkbook as I did last year.

This would have greatly reduced my need for cash on the trip.  There were a couple national parks like Death Valley that had s kiosk that took credit cards but that was the exception of all the national parks.  Yosemite National Park took credit cards in the office too.  If I would have planned better and booked my stays in advance I would have saved using cash even more.

In any case you need to be prepared for spending up to $30.00 in exact cash.  Like at the state Campground in Indiana that wanted $28 and change, I just gave them $29.00.  Although I didn't feel it was worth it it was what it was.

National Parks or Mobuments:

 If your over 62 and a US citizen get a national park pass as you get into national parks, nationsl monuments, etc free.  If not plan some cash here as they may not take credi cards or you may be able to write a check but I didn't ask.

McDonalds Visits:

Brent & Manina gave me a McDonalds Arch Card to start my trip.  This saved spending cash.  I updated the card by adding $25.00 when I got low by charging the additional costs to my credit card.

Making Change:

I still would buy my $1.00 unsweetened iced tea with a $20.00 bill to get and have change for the next camping stay that required cash.


Laundromats varied with some using unique to their location RFID cards that could be recharged by either cash or credit card.  Other locations were just credit cards or strictly cash.  

I carried detergent pods as they were easy to carry and cost less than buying detergent in the laundromat.  If you plan to have $6.00 in cash for one medium load to wash and some dry cycles.  I would wash all in one wash and split the dryers with one polyester and other cotton.  I would wash my sleeping bag sheet and pillowcase each week with my clothing during the week as the laundromat is less crowded.


Most places when I chose to go out to eat took credit cards, but you need to be prepared for the few places that don't.  Of course you need to plan on what happened to me Memphis where the network went down and I had to pay cash.  

On the other hand when my aunt took me out to eat in Wisconsin that night the sign on the door said cash only so she was short and I covered the rest until we got back to her house.

Cash in Pocket / Car

Just have $30.00 in cash as a minimum in your pocket and and maximum of about $60.00.  My cash is like the picture above.  I would always keep a few $5.00 bills in my pocket not wallet so if I wanted to give some money to some poor person on the trip I didn't have to take out or open my wallet.  I guess that I gave out $80.00 in $5.00 increments to people I found deserving. I became more socially conscious since I retired and met a number of down and out people

Cash & Credit Stash:

I have a vehicle stash in case of an emergency hidden in the car but never a lot.  I also kept my debit card in with my cash stash.  Your stash should be no less than between $100.00 & $200.00 this way even if I lost my wallet I had a different credit/debit card & cash to keep my life moving forward.  I had the luxury of having a safer blanket in having a son on either coast and friends or family along the way but never had to use it.


Some parking meters take credit cards now and parking lots generally take credit.  You should carry a small container with $10.00 of quarters for parking.  Some parking lots have a fixed fee where they only take cash too.  It's tough to turnaround in the garage once you are in line.  Plan to have your cash ready.


If driving across the country get an EZPass if on the east coast out to Illinois for toll roads and get a SunPass for Florida and let's hope we can use EZPass in the future there.  Even if you have these passes have cash ready for the rare chance you go to a tool that only takes cash.


100% of my gas was put on credit card.  If you run out of gas and you don't have roadside assistance plan on paying cash for your gas if it is delivered.  I got the Good Sam Card last year for camping but more for the $.03 off each gallon of fuel I buy at Pilot or a Flying-J truck stops.

Roadside Assistance:

I had one accident I got towed but could have pulled my spare out but I was in a bad spot and I doubt the PD would have accepted the delay in doing it myself.  I have AAA with long distance towing.  It was nice having it and getting out of the intersection ASAP and delivered to the Toyota  Dealer for quick repairs.  If no roadside assistance plan then you should plan for your emergency fund to be at least $300.00 more.


The Movie Theaters all took credit card but some open air events may take cash only to get in and for food once you are inside.


There were some vendors at outside craft events that didn't take credit cards so you my have to go back to the car for some stash money and make your purchase.


I did go to Walmart for groceries a lot but also went to many other stores.  From my travels I have many shopping cards from stores and thus saves money on specials.  If you go to a store and don't have a card get one as it is worth it.

Remember to replenish your stash and not put it off as you never know what will happen.


Day 104 - Hot Water

(Web photo)

Last year I mostly made hot water with a small teapot on the built-in 2-burner stove in my Class B Campervan.

To do this with the Prius meant getting out the 1-burner stove from the trunk space under the rear floor of the bed and fridge.  Then getting a pot from under the storage area I built where the rear passenger seat was.  Of course if I didn't have a flat place to put the stove like many co grounds that don't have picnic tables or when I'm Boondocking on BLM land I would need to get out my folding table then heat water.  

I took the time to do this to make water this way when I was cooking on the stove so it didn't feel like an extra step/s.

On this years travels in my Prius when I wanted to wash my face at night before bed all I needed is a couple cups of hot water.  When I shaved again in the morning I only needed a couple cups of hot water.  When I wanted to wash a dish and spork I used for a dinner salad, again I only needed a couple cups of hot water.

My Prius solution was to heat water using this 12 volt water heater.  I had already made a power center over the car's 12 volt battery in the rear of the car with a heavy duty 12 volt outlet designed to handle heavy loads like this device.

I put up to 16 oz of water in and about 20 minutes later I have boiling water.  I did not try other similar products, but this one worked great for my needs.

It has two cups nestled to form the cover, with the smaller one a measuring cup of sorts. If you don't need a lot of hot water this works great.

The next thing I wanted to solve was hot water storage.  If I only need a cup or two of hot water at night and in the morning it wasn't practical to boil water twice, especially when I was stealthy in a casino parking lot.

My problem solver was this highly insulated Thermos brand thermos.  It is large enough to store sufficient hot water for 24 hours. When I say hot I mean it.  Boiling hot water in the evening is too hot that evening and still hot enough to hurt your hands without adding cold water the next morning.  If it isn't that cold outside I still had hot water 48 hours later to wash and shave.  

With the Thermos I could now keep enough water heated during an hour for a full day of needs.  I had enough hot water to wash my hair, shave, wash up, and clean some dishes during the day.  The next evening I would do the same having hot water when I needed it.

I found this provided the best comfort at the least amount of water.  When I needed to temper the water a bit as it was too hot I would just use these squirt bottles to add cooler water as needed.

I would also use the hot water to make instant oatmeal, tea, and cook hot dogs. I would put the hot dogs in an insulated coffee mug and add the hot water and wait 10 minutes.  I would heat the single serving cans of beans and vegetables by setting them on the thermos combo cup/bowel/cover and pouring in hot water and wait 10 minutes and the food was hot.  There are people who have written recipes on how to cook in a thermos.

If I could have hot water in my Prius Campervan you can too when you camp or go on trips.  Just remember that these immersion water heaters take a lot of current and the 12 volt outlets that come in most cars are not designed for this current.  The wire size, fuse, and 12 volt outlet need to be heavy duty.  I planned for 10 amps for my design in the Prius.  Also you need to have the engine running when using them so you do not deplete your vehicles battery.  For the Prius the 12 volt system is supplied by an inverter from the high voltage drive battery so it only needs to be in ready mode and the Prius will know when to run the engine.

When I visited my son Clayton's house in Monterey I just filled the thermos with hot water before I left.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

19,000 miles & 7,000 Blog Views

Pageviews by Countries (Last Month)

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

United States


South Korea












United Kingdom






I arrived in Elkridge, Maryland 40 miles short of 19,000 for my 2015 Travels and with some limited driving I have now passed that number.

Today also marks 7,000 blog views for my two years of travels.

Above are the top countries that have view my Travel Blog over the last month.

For some reason the software only shows this top grouping and not the complete list.

Pageviews by Countries (Alltime)

Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers

United States




South Korea

















Day 103 - How Much Water?

(Web photo)

One of the more important considerations for my 2015 Travels with my Prius is the amount of water I needed carry to live on the road.

You can live without a lot of things but water is not one of them.  I had to weigh a number of factors when I was designing the interior space utlizatiion.

Considering water I had to weigh in the fact I had limited space available and I had to guess how much water I would need per day.

I opted for this 7 gallon water container that fit on the rear footwell behind the front passenger seat.  I bought mine at Walmart. 

My concept included being able to access the water in the container by lifting my bed board, unscrewing the white cap and inserting a tube to pump the water out of the container.  

This is the tube to pump the water out not using electricity.  It is a pump to take water out of a fish tank and the plastics is for drinking water.

My other major consideration was to be able to leave the water container behind the front seat with the seat forward, when in "bed mode", and with the seat back and bed board flipped back, in "passenger mode".

If I remove the white waterproof pillowcase cover behind the passenger seat that I use to store clothing, the seat will go back 6 more inches, making the front seat very passenger friendly.

People generally take the path of least resistance in life and I was no different.  Although lifting the hinged board for my bed and exposing the cap and inserting the pumping hose to hand pump the water out of the container it wasn't practical for one person travel in the Prius.  It would be practical for spending a number of days Boondocking in the desert.  For me the 7 gallons of water would last me about 5 days in the desert.

I didn't find being stationary in the desert for days of interest to me as it lacked social interaction and since I blogged everyday I sought out going into towns for WIFI, touring around, and talking to people.

I spent 2 days in the desert on BLM land and not going into town, but this was my maximum time between being able to go to the store. 

My path of least resistance I developed regarding water storage was to leave the 7 gallon blue container full behind the front passenger seat, but use the 3 quart containers above on the floor of the front seat.  I had 3 of these 3 quart containers and would fill them up when needed.

From floor space wasn't an issue since I generally didn't have a passenger.  When I did the water containers would fit behind the drivers seat on the floor.

When I was in Tucson I would just go to the water kiosk on many street corners and pay $.25 per gallon when needed.  When there were no water kiosks I would buy water by the gallon and fill the 3 quart containers.  At campgrounds I would just fill up the 3 quart containers.

When I was in Florida and met up with other Vandwellers at Hog Pen Landing "Cuzzin Dick" gave me the tip that the screw cap containers, although containing less than a gallon of water were much better to handle and store.  They were better as the screw cap is more secure than the push on cap, although I did carry the push cap from time to time without a problem.  

The round screw cap bottles of water in the picture above are the same containers I got in Florida at the beginning of the trip and I just refilled them for the rest of the trip.

Last year I had a large fresh water tank in my Class B camper van and I didn't track usage and with a pump you use more water.  When you see the water you use you use less water.

The other thing is that there are many people that have water usage down to a science by using hand spray bottles for washing and doing dishes.  I didn't do this.  I was able to wash my hair and then use the warm soapy water to wash my body, and rinse my hair with clean water and stay close to a quart of water.  

I had purchased a 12 volt pump with spray head hose that would fit into the fill hole of the blue container but never used it.  My thought I would use it to transfer water and to heat warm water and put it in my small bucket and shower with it.  Although this would work it uses too much water unless you are in a campground without showers but had a water supply and then it will work well.

What I did find very usable are these two water containers with pull to open spouts.  This privided me with just enough water to wash and rinse the small number of dishes that I would use for dinner and give me water to brush my teeth, and rinsing my hair.  You can squeeze these bottles to make water delivery better too.

All containers and pump are designed for drinking water so my water supply was also my drinking water.

The other goal is to not have food preparation that uses lots of water.  When I made spaghetti I would only do it when I knew I had a water supply since there is a good amount of wasted water.

I never ran out of water and after I got used to washing my hair and body daily on about a quart of water my view of the amount of water I needed on the trip changed.

My goal is to see if I can design the space behind the passenger seat to store  4 gallons of water, if by myself.  If two of you are traveling just go with the 7 gallon container and the small ones and fill from the 7 gallons.

What's nice about the 7 gallon blue container is that if you park for any length of time it will nicely fit on a table and you can use as a faucet for water at your campsite.  For one person on the move as I was day after day the 7 gallon container wasn't necessary.  If Boondocking even by yourself go with the 7 gallons too.  My goal was to have food and water for 4 - 5 days & if I need to plan longer I could just pick up another gallon of water and put it on the floor.  

Water containers can always be set outside at night.  I often did this with the 3 qt containers and would have cold drinking water most of the day.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 102 - Apple Store Experience / Phone As Camera

(Web photo)

This wasn't the story I was planning to write today.  My plan for these last few days on the road, now with family, was to start to review what I brought with me and its level usefulness.

In reality your phone and taking pictures was an important travel item I hadentvthought of.

I showed this picture of my Apple IPhone with the screen separating from the phone in a previous blog post.  I planned to visit the Apple Store today to see what they recommended as the phone is my "everything".  It's my phone, email device, text device, web browser, maps, weather, and the list goes on, but one important thing it is would be a camera.

(Web photo)

I headed over to the Columbia Mall just after noon having spent the morning with Manina and my granddaughters.

I walked into the Apple Store and was asked how I could be helped and I showed him the phone with the screen now almost totally off.

They typed in my information into an IPad and said I would get 3 texted messages. First will let me know I have checked in.  The next will be head back to the store we are almost ready to take you. Last would be we will take you now.  

I walked out of the store and got the first message as I briefly sat outside the store on a mall bench.  

Within a couple more minutes I got my second message.  I thought wow I'll be out of here fast.

45 minutes later still not getting the third message, I went in and spoke with the guy with the yellow covered iPad.  The guy with the yellow pad coordinates the service assignments.

He says to me after checking his iPad that it will be 5 more minutes.  A half hour later deciding to stand near him, I finally got someone to help me.

This is a good news / bad news story.  It's good I'm near an Apple Store.  The bad mews was they didn't manage customer expectations well out of the gate.

The good/bad continues

The man assigned to my case took my phone outback and came back with the screen totally separated.

He shows me that the Lithium Battery had swelled and he felt it was about to start on fire from the smell from the battery.  

Wow! I just thought the screen was bent.  Thinking back sleeping in the car I'm glad I had a smoke detector in it, although I have seen lithium batteries burn very fast.

He then tells me that they will replace the phone at no cost as it was less than 3 years old.  That's good news.  

Then the question "Is all your data backed up?"

Well, kinda/sorta I say.  I have had to turn off iCloud back up of my pictures a long time ago, as I have too many pictures and I have had to delete some as I am bouncing at the end of my 32 Gb memory space.  Also being on the road I am not near WIFI for any length of time on a regular basis to even install updates on a regular basis.  My phone is waiting on 8.3.

I then give my typical complaint that there is a device for the IPhone to upload pictures from a memory card but no way to put pictures on a memory card.  

I didnt want to walk away with the phone in pre flame mode as I don't want to start a fire in my son's home.  I knew I could recover all my applications from my recent iCloud backup, although it will take awhile.  I also knew I will loose all my photos.  That is not good news.

At least there is good news that from writing this blog each day I have the history of my trip backed up on my blog post.  So, I decided to just get it done and get the replacement phone.

The main way to back up your iPhone if you don't use the cloud is to plug it into a computer and run ITunes on the computer and connect the phone and back up the phone.  I don't do this as it is just another thing to do and not easy to do on the road.  This is why they have automatic cloud storage.

I walked out of the IPhone store with my phone working but because the data restore would not work it wasn't functioning. Both of us assumed my IPad back at my son's was tried to the Internet  and preventing the restore working.

I came back to the house and got the restore to work after disconnecting the IPad WIFI.  Eventually I worked on getting each application to work by finding the logon information.  By the evening I was well back to my phone functioning the way I like.

So why not a separate camera?

I don't like carrying a separate camera device and it is a lot of extra work to get my daily pictures from the camera to the phone to the blog.  It is so simple to just use the phone and already have the photos on the phone and just post them in the blog. With a phone it is easier to carry but a camera has no good way to carry on you.

For simplicity when I hike I clip my phone on the front backpack strap and it is easy accessible to check my trail status, mail, or just take a picture.

Also living in and out of the Prius just didn't want to carry anything that wasn't needed.

In the end the pictures are in my head as they are truely my memories.  Think about all the slides I took years ago that sit in boxes with pictures of years gone by not seeing the light of day.  I never look at them so would these pictures sit in my phone not deleting them for nostalgic reasons and end up with either paying for cloud storage the rest of my life or having them sit on a memory device.

What has become more important to me is the moment and for my travels we all have my blog as the history of my travels.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 101 - Baltimore Baseball

The timing of being in the Baltimore area, having the Red Sox in town playing the Orioles and son Brent and my like watching baseball it was the thing to plan to go to.  We made these plans over the past two weeks.

Norah got to stay home with mom and Brent, Avery and I went to Baltimore.

The Camden yards ballpark is a family friendly place so after a photo with the Orioles Bird Avery got some time in in the playground that is inside the gates.

The park is great for watching a game as there are no obstructed seats like at Fenway Park in Boston and it costs less to see a game here.  $15.00 for a ticket to the game!

The weather was great with temperatures in the low 60's.

The score was not do great with the Red Sox with 7 runs and Orioles 18.  It didn't make for an interesting game, but it was a good time.
Red Sox