Sunday, September 19, 2010

Drycamping

.
I'll start out by telling you that everyone who recently responded (by comment or email) seems to want pictures, so I'm going to include some shots, even when they aren't 100% pertinent to my ramblings.

Can you spot Cholula Red
in this shot?


We're drycamping!

We love to drycamp, although I must admit we don't so it all that often.

Here's the story.

When we first got Cholula Red, we had two 100 watt solar panels installed. We camped for almost a year, deciding if that would be adequate.

Well, of course that would have been adequate, but in assessing our lifestyle, we decided that we wanted a bit more.

One thing I knew we wanted was a three stage charger. The charger that came with the Lazy Daze was OK, (but not a three stage charger). Short explanation: a three stage charger senses the level of charge of the batteries (from solar, generator or hook ups, ). That means that it takes better care of your batteries, by backing off when they need less power and amping up when they need more.

I also knew that I wanted a full house inverter. An inverter basically takes the 12v of the batteries and makes it available for all your regular 120v household appliances. Now there are portable inverters available and for a year we had been using them; however I knew it would be much more livable if I could just make all my 120v outlets "live" with the flick of a switch.

After some research it was decided that a Prosine 2000 inverter/charger would do the trick. The Prosine is also a pure sine wave (important to me for the computers). The problem was that they were running around $1800. Then there's the installation . . .

I did some searching on the internet and found a marine supply house where I could get one for $1202. shipped!

In researching all of this, I also decided that if we were going to get all this work done, we might as well max out our solar panels, which on our rig, would be four100 watt panels. Now, truth be told, we have too much solar for our two Trojan T105 batteries (capacity 220 amp hours) but at the time, our batteries were only one year old and working just fine, so we figured we'd deal with that later. Now, five years later, they still seem to be in peak condition, but when the time comes for replacement, we will go with four batteries instead of two.

With all the decisions made, we hightailed it to Oregon, home of AM Solar to get the work done.

One other thing I forgot to mention.

When we were at AM Solar we had the electric in Cholula Red set up so that if we only have 20 amp service (which is what you get when you plug into most residential outlets) we have a switch we can activate which takes everything but the air conditioner off of the circuit (effectively running everything else in the coach off the solar/batteries) and allows us to have air conditioning. Otherwise we would be blowing circuits, or have to run the generator (not the most friendly activity when staying in in a residential area).

Is that too cool or what?

After staying at AM Solar for two days, we were set up to go!

Now I tell you this story for a reason.

It seems that as serendipity would have it, we are almost always hooked up. If you camp host, they provide electricity. If you have a New Mexico State Park pass, electric and water sites are only $4.00 a night, so why not hook up?

But then there are those unforeseen opportunities that seem to present themselves.

Last year we were offered a site on a ranch in Northern New Mexico. The family ranch was surely one of the most beautiful places we have ever stayed (for pictures, click here). The only catch (not really) was that there were no hook ups, but you know what? It didn't matter a whit to us, because of how we have the rig set up.

We went for a week and stayed for a month, with an open invitation to stay again.

And right now, we're at Mundo Lake,
part of the Jicarilla Indian Nation.

The camping is dry,

completely free

and
so beautiful.


And because we have solar
Here I am
sitting by the side of a lake,

watching the New Mexico skies,


and still, I'm connected to the internet, have power, lights and all the comforts of home.

While we don't always use the many options we've installed for drycamping, over the years, we've found it leaves us open to so many unexpected opportunities, it's a decision we've never regretted.

And then there's our solar oven, which I appreciate more and more. A few days ago, I made green chile stew (onions, garlic, pork, red peppers, green chile, spices, YUM), set it out in the sun about 11:00, and around 4:30 had a pot of succulent stew. No heat in the rig, no propane/electricity used, just the good old power of the sun.

Could it be any better?


Well,
maybe . . .
If you have moon-rises like this


or this



7 comments:

Jonna said...

Those are some SPECTACULAR photos! I loved them. You capture the beauty of NM so well, brings back my wonderful memories of the area.

Kimberly and Jerry Peterson said...

EXCELLENT photos!!!!!

Going solar has always been something we had been interested but instead we look for deals on campgrounds. We really like to be hooked up but if we had your setup, we would reconsider it entirely.

Great details...thanks!

Kate said...

Jonna

I also love your pictures of your new life in Old Mexico.

Hope we get together again one of these days, till then, the blogs help!

Kate said...

Kimberly & Jerry

Solar, while not for everyone, has certainly opened up new opportunities for us.

CeiPui said...

Oh I ENJOYED this blog so much, so informative!

Now that power is not an issue, how large is the fresh water tank? How many days can you dry-camp with that many gallons of fresh water?

Kate said...

CeiPui,

I have another blog entry planned on our water usage, but right now, I'm posting from Monument Valley!

Short answer, we carry 55 gallons of fresh water and can go anywhere from 10-14 days (I'll explain that in the future blog entry)

CeiPui said...

Good, I have a lot to learn from you, as we're plan to do most-time RV-ing in four years.