Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Boondocking in the Desert...Part 2

Too many Cloudy Days

We boondocked in the desert for 27 days, four days short of a month.  Everyone said this season was cooler than normal. So far, on warm (40 at night and 70 by day) sunny days, our two solar panels seemed to be working very well. Cloudy days were a different story.

Lack of sunshine was very bad for us. The energy we used was not being replaced fast enough to keep our AGM deep-cycle batteries at 100 percent. We even tried shutting off the refrigerator at night when going to bed to see if that would help, but it was not enough.

We ordered a third solar panel. By the time it arrived and John installed it, we were hooking up jumper cables to the engine battery of the Chrysler van, but still could not get the coach batteries back to 100 percent charge. Of biggest concern was keeping our refrigerator running, our phones charged, and the batteries in the computers charged.  There were times when I charged my cell phone using the cord to plug it into the cigarette lighter in the van to keep it charged rather than take power away from charging the refrigerator.

Our initial space was very limited.  Running the jumper cables from the Chrysler engine battery through our entry door back to the closet where our coach batteries were located created even more cramped quarters.  We could still move around okay.  However, due to limited space, it was impossible to work on any projects that required unpacking boxes of things that needed sorting.

Lack of sunshine...
The week before Christmas brought more cloudy days. It was still challenging trying to keep our coach batteries charged without using the battery cables from the van battery, but we managed to keep all of our food from spoiling by carefully selecting what was the oldest and fixing what was warming up or thawing the quickest.

Because we were anxious to begin this new adventure of RV full-time living and traveling, we chose not to delay our departure another year.  However, this meant we would opt to bring things with us that needed sorting so we could digitize what we elected to keep during our journey. This problem with lack of sun and not being able to keep our coach batteries at capacity made it impossible to accomplish any digitizing tasks.    

Clouds, Clouds, and More Clouds…

Mid-morning skies filled with beautiful display of clouds…

Desert Winds

Winds in the desert were gusting up to 25 miles per hour; many gusts that really rocked the trailer actually felt like they were in excess of 40 miles per hour.  This kicked up a lot of dust hiding the mountains in the distance from view. In place of the sunset, the sky had dark clouds of dust streaming across the sky. From where we were, I took one photo to the front and left, one to the right, and one straight ahead, to show the skies around us.

Front and left
Photo to the right
Photo straight ahead
Rain in the Forecast

The path up to the door of our camper was turning into powder, a very fine powder.  I had noticed that the numerous small rocks in the walkway up to the doorstep at our trailer were disappearing, which made the walkway extremely dusty. As long as it was dry, we could tolerate it.  When rain was forecast, I could visualize having to walk a muddy path. Angel is all white and I knew if we got the rain that was predicted, I would need to try something or be prepared to clean his feet every time he entered our camper.  So I went in search of rocks, larger, flatter size rocks, that would be useful to make a type of cobblestone walkway of rock for us to enter the trailer. Fortunately, we got very little rain, but the path helped minimize the dirt.

Rocks used to create cobblestone path walkway to our trailer

The microwave was not an option. However, I could have cooked using our Coleman two-burner propane stove or charcoal in our small grill. In our situation I found the Coleman Butane Stove very easy to use even though it had only one burner. For me, it turned out to be the best alternative method of fixing food.

We especially liked the Knorr Rice Sides packets. They were extremely easy to fix. I added a can of chicken or beef, depending on the packet flavor, and it made a nice warm meal ready to eat in ten to fifteen minutes. Sometimes I would also add a vegetable in addition to the meat.

The Chicken Flavor Broccoli is a rice and pasta blend with Broccoli in a Chicken Favored Sauce with other natural flavor.  It was only one of the Knorr packets that I prepared in a pan on the Coleman Butane Stove.

A can of chicken, separated, and added to Knorr Rice Sides
packet of Chicken flavored Broccoli in this photo.
This is not meant to paint a bleak picture of boondocking in the desert.  As with anything new, sometimes life throws us a curve. Solving issues as they occur in an attempt to work through situations and stay positive creates memories.  On a more positive note, we had no problem keeping warm when the temperature dropped. Our Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater, which used two small propane canisters, kept us toasty warm.

Nothing like Cookies to Take our Mind off of Things…

John came across several no-bake cookie recipes on Facebook. One of my favorites is the “Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies” that my mother used to make. I think he was hinting that I whip up a batch.  Had to admit it did sound tasty. Here is the recipe if you are interested.


Combine the following four ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute:
½ Cup Butter
2 Cups Sugar
½ Cup Milk
4 Tablespoons Cocoa

Stir in the following 3 ingredients and drop on to wax paper:
½ Cup Peanut Butter
3 ½ Cups Quick Cooking Oats
2 teaspoons Vanilla

Let cool until set.

Tasty Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookie treats!
These are still warm from the pan. The shine will disappear after they cool and are ready to eat.  I have seen several recipes for no-bake cookie treats.  They are great to make since they do not require an oven.  After I have a chance to try some of the other no-bake recipes, I will share the ones we like.

Keep up with our adventures in Part 3 of Boondocking in the Desert.

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