Waiting Out the Rain

Yes, it does rain in Arizona. After dodging thunderstorms during Saturday’s road trip, I decided to stick close to home yesterday. Indeed, I was surrounded by dark storm clouds on all sides and heard thunder much of the day, but it never actually rained where I am. No doubt it was raining not too far away, including many of the places I would’ve gone for a bike ride. So instead, the bike went into its garage.

I rewired the trailer’s interior lights I installed to reach my Jackery 240 on the top shelf, so now I have lighting in there anytime I want. I still intend to expand this electrical system a bit more, so I can charge tools and run my laptop in the trailer if I want.

Lister has decided that under this bush is his favorite spot. He’s even smushed the grass down into a nice comfortable bed. I’ve spotted him here many times over the past few days.

While in town yesterday I couldn’t help drooling over this Nissan Sentra SE-R. I had a white one of this vintage, and it was the best front-wheel drive car I’ve ever owned. It’s sporty and fun to drive, yet completely practical at the same time. Unlike mine, this one was in beautiful condition, inside and out. It made me miss mine a bit, even though it was rusting out from under me, which is why I eventually had to get rid of it.

Overnight, the storm clouds finally broke through whatever cosmic barrier was keeping them away from me. Thunder woke me up early, and it continued to rain throughout the day. Lister is unhappy that he’s been cooped up inside all day. I even turned my propane heater on for the first time this year, since it never really warmed up today. It’s quite a contrast to the t-shirt and shorts weather that was here when I arrived a week and a half ago.

I’ve realized that not having a one-burner stove I’m comfortable using inside the van is a problem. For the past few months, I’ve gotten away with cooking or heating up water outside. But I’m not comfortable using my MSR camp stove inside. It’s tall, so things can fall off it easily, especially when Lister decides to wander through my cooking area before I can yell at him. It also shoots a much larger flame than I like inside. So I’ll be ordering a similar stove to the one I used to have, except dual-fuel to run both butane and propane. In fact, I should be able to use the adapter hose I got for my original stove to connect it to my large propane tank along with my heater. Not only will I not have to deal with separate fuel bottles, but I’ll also be able to get my propane tank refilled mid-winter when the stores run out of the smaller butane and propane cans. This was a problem I ran into last winter, but fortunately, friends who were traveling were able to bring me butane for my old stove.

I had to run into town for some supplies. Normally I’d take the bike, but because it was raining I took the van. I was a little bit concerned about the soft ground around my camp. The couple with the rented camper van at the site next to me had already moved to park on the road by the time I woke up, concerned about getting stuck in the mud. Fortunately, I had no trouble at all getting in and out of my campsite. Looking at the tire tracks, my van definitely sank a little bit, but only to the point where the knobby tread was making full contact with the ground, which gave me great traction with no wheelspin. This is why I got highway-terrain tires instead of strictly road tires. Today is supposed to be the last of the rain this week, so the ground should dry out pretty well before I have to pull the trailer out of here.

The other problem I’ve had with the rainstorms is no solar charging. That, plus running the laptop most of the day for work, drained my batteries pretty quickly. But I had a solution waiting in the trailer — my generator.

Ignore the top numbers. They’re always wrong, and Renogy support was useless for helping me get them right. The bottom row is real-time numbers. Thanks to the generator I’m getting 140 watts of charging, which is all I can expect with my 10 amp charger. When I switch the generator to “eco mode,” which runs the engine more slowly and generates less power, I still get the full 140 watts, so I can save gas that way.

I’m considering once again upgrading my charger, though. I could be pumping twice as much power into my batteries with my 2,000-watt generator. The charger is the bottleneck. I got it for the occasional shore power plug-in at a friend’s house or campground, and 10 amps is plenty to charge me up overnight. But now that I’m going to be running off the generator regularly during the winter, a 20-amp charger would top me off in half the time, which would be more convenient for me, and also mean less noise for my neighbors to put up with. Then I could sell my year-old 10-amp charger, which some van lifer could almost certainly use in Quartzsite.

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