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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument 1/31/18 - Day 24

Today is Wednesday 1/31/18 - Day 24.

I am at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Above is the Organ Pipe Cactus.  It is a large one and it is special.

It’s special because it has a crest inside it.  All Cactus are different as are the crests.

Off in the distance in the main highway in Organ Pipe Cactus NM, I was turning around and I could see a crested saguaro about 1/8 mile out in a wash.

I got a nice afternoon sun to amplify the crest.

My camping spot in the tent area.  $8 a night and with my senior pass $4.00 for the night.


Los Algodones Petroglyph Rocks, AZ 1/30/18 - Day 23

Today is Tuesday, 1/30/18 - Day 23.

I have another vandweller friend who would like to go to Los Algodones for the first time.  Being in the area today was the day.

The trip, as usual, involves arriving early at the border parking lot.  Then touring the small center of town saying high to a couple of locals, that remember me and making a couple of purchases.  I forgot to get the clear vanilla for the wife the last trip so I remember this time.

My MD son sends me a message reminding me of the rare blood, blue, eclipsed moon tonight / early hours of Wednesday morning.

I thank him as I’m in a great area to see it.  

My destination tonight is BLM land at Petroglyph Rocks, AZ, just west of Gila Bend.  This BLM camping is $8.00 a night, but with my senior National Park Pass it’s half price at $4.00.

The couple checking in ahead of me only had $2.00 cash with their park pass.  I gave them the additional $2.00.  In thanking me, I asked them to pay it forward.  I carry a check book just for this reason, as I have been counting change in my car to pay the exact amount to the iron ranger in the past.  A check makes it simple!

I knew the moon would be big as it rose so I found my fixed foreground object to use in my pictures.  I will be back in the pitch black of no moon to use it again in the morning.

I thought it would be fun to take a picture of the moon on top of the rock.

Here I am a bit after 6:00 am taking this picture.  Back at the old tree with bird house.  People ask how I take my photos so here is the key.  At night it helps to light the foreground a bit so the picture will not turn out to grainy.  I used a headlamp in my hand on an angle shooting up.  This allows the moon to show its true colors.  Yes I wanted the moon in the arch of the tree, so I wore my down coat as it was chilly outside waiting for the shot.  Photo was taken with my IPhone7.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Solar / Batteries For My FWC Truck Camper

I saw this Facebook post above and I had to point out about the difference in technology that exists for batteries tied to solar systems.

OMG!  1100 lbs of batteries.  My camper when purchased has a sticker weight of 585 lbs.  My Tacoma has a load weight of 900 lbs.  

The batteries that they installed above give 330 Ah

Because you can’t draw these lead acid batteries down all the way,  there is only 165 Ah available to use (rule of thumb on lead acid batteries is 1/2 the listed Ahs.

In comparison my battery above is a Lithium (LiFePo4) 50 Ah battery is 13.6 lbs and I can use all 50 Ah without damaging it.

Now let’s say you wanted to replace that 1100 lbs of lead acid batteries with lithium like what I have.

You need 165 Ah usable.  Let’s say we come close at 150 Ah.

So you would buy the 150 Ah battery (below) for a weight of 41.1 lbs.  You save carrying 1050 lbs and all that space and managment of checking all those lead acid batteries.

I can only imagine the cost of fuel of carrying all those batteries on a trip.

I took out the 100 Ah AGM (lead acid) battery that came with my camper that weighed about 80 lbs and opted for LiFePo4 technology and a lot less weight.


Disbursed Camping / Knowing What Land Your On

So you want to boondock out west like me.  How do you know where you can go.  I am using the above paid app this year as it overlays a map of who owns the land over me.  I want to say I pad for my app and have no affiliation with the company or their employees.

It just works well.  I’m the blue dot on the picture above.  I know when I move on the yellow BLM land. It’s that simple.

Yes you can use the Public Lands App below

It works generally the same, but lacks some public lands like Arizona Trust Land that I have a permit to stay on.

Other apps like AllStays, Ultimate Campground, and Campendium, are great apps and I use them all.  They give you a place or two that you can go.  Some may have incorrect data for ownership I have found.  What they don’t do is if you get to the one or two spots they have for an area, you really don’t know that if you move a 1/2 mile further if you are still on public land you can stay on.

Another way you can find spots is the old way by stopping in the public land office for where you can park. 

I just wanted to know if I parked in a spot I was on the land I thought I was supposed to be on and the app “on X Hunt” does this for me


Running Out Of Data! - Resizing Posted Photo’s

I got a notice (above) that I was running out of data on my AT&T phone plan.

I knew it was my lack of going into town for free WiFi as often as I should to upload my photos.

I followed AT&T’s suggestions for data usage and it didn’t help my situation.

So, here is what I did to address my issue.

Problem: my iPhone 7 takes nice pictures often 3-4 mb of storage.  Most photos are gust for my blog and I don’t need that quality and it costs me my data to upload when on the AT&T network.

I wish phots had a setting or picture taking quality, as I would set it low to medium.  They give that option when mailing photos.

The goal is to resize the photos I want to post! 

Yikes.  I was close on going over.  I bit the bullet and used more library locations and free WiFi and searched for a solution.

My search brought me finally to the above app.  Shrink My Photos.

This wasn’t the first app I downloaded or tried but the one I am reasonably happy with.

It’s a simple app 

1. Open app
2. Select photos from your iPhone photos you want to resize 
3. Select resizing to (Compress) 80%, 50%, or 25%
4. Select if you want to delete the original photo
5. Select the compressed photos to put in your photo storage on your iPhone 

It is fast and simple 

Just wish it put the photos in a separate photo folder as kerpingbthe original photo you can’t tell them apart in your photo storage.

Hope this helps others.


Rear Step / Beer Holder?

I brought an 18” high folding step to get in and out of camper, but getting the folding step out and picking it up Boondocking in parking lots and possibly forgetting it somewhere, I decided on a permanent step for my receiver hitch.

The step I got at Camping World in Tucson on the way out to San Diego was the right price and style from what I had seen online.

The best part is that I can just leave it there.  It ends up the same height off the ground as my 18” step stool.

In addition to it giving me a dedicated step that I don’t have to worry about, it is a good drink holder while sitting out back of my camper.  My bigger fridge allows me to carry some beer this year.  More on that in another post.

Note the silver cable and the orange box.

The cable is a 10 ft lightening cable off my solar system so I can charge outside.  The orange box is a Bluetooth speaker that was a previous gift from my wife.  It’s small size gives good sound quality and it clips on my backpack so I can listen to podcasts as I hike.


BLM Hot Springs Holtville, CA 1/29/18 - Day 22

Today is Monday 1/29/18 - Day 22.

This morning I’m headed to BLM Hot Springs in Holtville, CA.  On way south through Brawley I see this lollipop smoke in the sky.  I have no clue!

Above is the Google map of the BLM area. I first stop at the Hot Springs just north of the highway.  This is where the LTVA is. Long Term Visitor Area.  It’s a paid area with some services.  $40 for 2 weeks.

See explanation in other pins on map I text below.

I eat lunch in the Oasis.

I parkfor the afternoon and night about 3 yellow pin drops down below the highway.  I’ve been here before and I understood it was a disbursed camping (free) area.  I was soon visited by the camphost for the LTVA who informed me if I stayed I would need to pay as I was in the LTVA.

I proceeded to be educated on the following.

First 1 mile below the highway is LVTA.  The next 1 mile is a buffer zone and no camping.  Then the next mile is 14 day disbursed camping. I was ok to move before staying the night.

Above is my new spot in the 14 day disbursed area. The heart on the map.

Sunset from the inside of camper looking out as I make dinner.

Why all the yellow pin drops on the map?

I call them breadcrumbs.  I place these pins on my map, as when I drive into disbursed areas this far it may be hard to remember the turns to get out.  This is specially true if one ever has to get out at night.   I follow the breadcrumbs.


Saturday, January 27, 2018

Joshua Tree / Slab City 1/26/18 - Day 19

Today is Friday 1/26/18 - Day 19.

The Hoover Dam is as far north I want to go until it gets hotter in later February / early March and it’s time to meet up with a few friends from the RTR at The Slabs.

Above a stop at rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park in my way south.

Here my Tacoma / FWC camper poses with one of the larger Joshua Trees.

I arrive at The Slabs in time to cook dinner before dark and then head over to the group campfire.  Center standing is Randy the poet, who is one that comes here from RTR each year. 

Thanks to CB for organizing the gathering.  Although I like coming, I only spend a couple days at a time and move on.

More on this visit to Slab City in my next post, or you can search Google for Brent’s Travels ....... (using key words)


The Slabs 1/27/18 - Day 20

Today is Saturday 1/27/18 - Day 20 and I’m waking at The Slabs, aka Slab City, CA.

Many will write about this place as it being bad ass, but the story and life here is not that easy to summarize.  

There are the people that live here that are an eclectic group of people that mostly keep to themselves and are generally standoffish unless you need to interact.  

There are the snow bird groups, WINS and LOWS who have fixed bases here.  

Then there are people like the folks from the RTR who come for the experience.  

Yes, there are others who come for the day as tourists.  There were more tourists this year than in the past.

I was sitting in the cab of my truck trying to figure out why my pictures didn’t post to my blog and the woman and her pet pig from the RTR came out to enjoy the morning sun.

Every year I come, the art on the old Marine Corp base storage tanks has changed.

Some of the art is unique and appealing.  Many come with social messages.

Above, this guy chose to enjoy the sunset on the roof of his van.

Since noon local talent had been entertaining at the Range nightclub.

I headed over as darkness fell for a couple hours as people are called up to show their talent on stage.

For me it is all about the experience and enjoy what I want to of The Slabs.

In the morning I will stop by the Oasis Club to chat with a few people before heading to my next destination.


Borrego Springs 1/28/18 - Day 21

Today is Sunday, 1/28/18 - Day 21

I can only take a couple days of The Slabs so I’m off to Borrego Springs area and I plan to stay at California State Park, Ocotillo Wells that is free with solar showers $.25 for each few minutes.  

Above is a picture of a sheep drive.  The farmers shut down the highway from Niland to Brawley to chase the flock to a new pasture.

I’m at Borrego Springs Christmas Circle park for lunch and free public WiFi.

The desert art is always fun to check out.

That beast is as big as my truck.

Ocotillo Wells SP is an off road vehicle area, and I’ve learned in the past to not spend the weekend if you want to have a peaceful night. Arriving Sunday means almost all go home to begin the work week.

I was able to find a Ramada to get shade and table.


Hoover Dam 1/25/18 - Day 18

Today is 1/25/18 - Day 18 and I’m at the Hoover Dam.

It is another great sunny day in the Southwest.

My camper with the I11 bridge in the background.  

This is as far as like to go north this time of year until the beginning of March when I will start touring southern Utah.

Tomorrow I head south again.


Lake Havasu City 1/24/18 - Day 17

Today is 1/24/18 - Day 17 and I decided to head up the Colorado River from Ehrenburg,  through Parker, and into LakeHavasu City for a stop at the London Bridge where I took this picture.

I got some flat walking along the lake as my foot seems to be getting a bit better.

Tomorrow more Colorado River as I head further north.


I’m Back!

My last post was questioning where my pictures were on my previous two posts.

How boring blog posts without pictures!

Well, I’ve troubleshotbit down to a Google issue.  Yes, I have plenty of space in my Google account.

I loaded two other blog posting apps and had the same problem.  I tried using Google Chrome and post directly and still had problems.  Last night the problem cleared up.

Lists of waisted time on my part and yours too.

Please see my last two posts at:


As with all my posts, questions are not just welcomed but encouraged.

Now to catch up on where I have been since the CO River.  Where I am now - the hint is the picture above.


Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Where Did The Pictures Go?

Hi All, 

My last two posts Day 14 & Day 15 are missing photos and I am trying to fix this but don’t know why.

Once I figure it out I will let you know


Where Solar and Shore Power Meet 1/22/18 - Day 15

Today is Monday 1/22/18 - Day 15

I know many who follow my blog are looking for information about my camper and comparison to my Prius Travels.  Here I bring together my previous posts on my FWC Shore Power and Solar come together.

Let’s start with the upper picture.

Top Left - 1 of 2 120v Shore Power outlets
Moving right
- switch for rear wireless WiFi camera and Security system
- 12v outlet dedicated for 12v Cooking
- 12v dedicated Engel fridge connector- Engle screw in recepticle (keeps outlet from working loose)
- dual 12v cig outlets that are switched (only original wiring here)
Just below top left - 120v outlet off of 400 watt pure sign wave inverter.
Moving right
- green 10 amp breaker/switch to feed original camper circuit. (Outlets above, ceiling fantastic fans, porch light, ceiling lights)
- Bioenno LiFePo4 solar charge controller 
- green 10 amp breaker for solar input to charge controller 
Third down from top left - blue seas 6 fuse panel for circuits
Moving right
- 400 watt PSW inverter

Now for down below
Left to right
- you can’t see it but to the left side of the battery is a 30 amp breaker switch for the heavy red wire going to the 400 watt PSW inverter
- new Bioenno 50 Ah LiFePo4 battery to run entire camper
- 120v Bioenno 10 amp LiFePo4 Charger for when on shore power
- watt meter plugged into quad outlets from shore power
- 120v 30 amp Shore Power circuit breaker feeding two circuits - one to each each shore power (1-duplex on wall & 2- duplex (quad) in cabinet 

So far I can run my entire FWC camper on the 50 Ah battery and solar will recharge battery before noon.

As I posted the other day I have the 12v Cooking outlet off the load side of the charge controller so it can be used to cook during the day when I have excess solar.  If solar is insufficient as it is now with sun low in the sky the battery makes up the difference.

It will be interesting when I have a full 9+ amps from the solar, as my rice cooker will not need the battery during the day.

My 400 watt PSW inverter is directly off the battery.

More on my build in future posts.

The most common question I get is how did I know how to wire all this.  Well, it is experience with my Electronic Engeering education.  

It’s what the inside of my brain looks like.


Change Of Scenery 1/21/18 - Day 14

Today is Sunday 1/21/18 - Day 14.

You can see I changed my backdrop.  That is the Colorado River and I’m parked in Ehrenburg, AZ and That is Blythe, CA across the river.

Although I could have stayed in Quartzsite as my pass in BLM land is good through 1/24, I waned a change of scenery.  Also my foot has been bothering me and walking on the jagged rocks in Quartzsite just aggravated my foot and my disposition.  I’m hoping the foot recovers as easily as whatever caused it while sitting and driving across the country.

Another advantage of moving the 25 miles west as the crow flys is the wind is negligible.  After the cold front came through the RTR the other day the wind has been strong on the hill where it was held.

Here there isn’t anything over a slight breeze.

I parked in a cul de sac where there was a Class A parked with a man an woman and a Class B Sprinter with a solo woman, both by themselves.

The woman was walking her dog as I arrived and we struck up a conversation and she was at the RTR, near where I was parked, and had stopped for the night before heading home in CA.

I had bought a steak for my dinner and I was going to make black beans and rice to go with it.  I asked the woman if she wanted to share and she did so it was dinner by the river and she brought salad items.

Traveling and cooking every day as I do, it is hard to cook for one without having leftovers.  When you buy a steak there is twice as much as I wish to eat, so I share when I can.  I did have rice and beans left over that will go in a burrito with some meat and veggies.

As you can see it was a pleasant evening by the river.  The guy in the Class A was fishing the river but I didn’t see anything caught.

After dinner the woman learned of my electronics skills and she wanted to learn how to figure what was drawing current on her AGM batteries that she charged from her generator when stationary.

She also wanted to learn how to use her Harbor Freight Digital volt ohm meter.  So, the meter was made in 2007 and battery was dead.  It uses a 9v battery so I showed her how to test the battery with her tongue.  I won’t forget her expressing as she tested her new battery.

After the meter was working it was a brief tutorial of how to use it.  We moved to her fuse panel and removed each fuse and put the meter in 10 amp mode and removed the 12v fuses and used the meter to jump the circuit to measure the current.  She tested each circuit and found the few that was drawing 1 amp continually drawing all night leaving her to run the generator again.

She was most astonished by the 2 amps that the 2 bulb fluorescent took when she turned it on.  I explained that she could replace that fixture with an LED one.  She wasn’t interested as she will be looking to sell it in the future and get a Class C.

It’s always great to help others and it’s even better to find people that have the independence to learn so they can do it in the future.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Last Day on CO River 1/23/18 - Day 16

Last day on CO river in Ehrenburg, AZ before moving on.

This is Tuesday, 1/23/18 - Day - 16 since leaving San Diego.  It’s been chilly at night so I have lowered my camper roof to save heat.  Chilly for me here is in the 30’s.  I’m completely warm in my 0 degree sleeping bag, but closing the roof will keep the inside 5-8 deg warmer.

Yes I started with the final picture of the day in this post.

It’s Tuesday and time for laundry at the Ehrenburg Laundromat.  No crowds or lines here.  They have showers for $8.00 too as well as a market.

Yesterday, 1/22/18 I was in Blythe, CA to give the Tacoma and camper a bath.

The dust in Quartzsite was bad and I needed to spray it off.  The water ran off brown.

After the bath for the camper I visited the Blythe Library.  They have a pass code they gave me for WiFi and it was very good.  I downloaded many podcasts for my travels.

When I was in Los Algodones, Mexico I bought some gifts.  Today Tuesday, was a good day to get a US P.O. prepaid box to send them home.

Some days require doing things others than just hanging by the Colorado River.