Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Quartzsite - Day 3

We are settling in to boondocking in the desert. The weather has been really nice. The highs are in the low 70's and the overnight lows are about 40. The wind has blown a little but not too bad. In the mornings before any wind I have been working and walking outside in a sweatshirt when the temperature is still only in the low 50's. The sun is really warm and the dry climate feels so good.

This is what it looks like out here. There is a lot of nothing. That is our truck and trailer in the center of the photo. Opinions vary about whether or not the starkness has a beauty of its own.

We have been keeping busy with daily hikes and also have gone into town each day to wander through a different shopping area. Lots of the booths have the same stuff, but there is also some variety. It really feels like a big state fair or a huge swap meet. We had some of the best kettle corn we have ever eaten at one of the stands.

I purchased a tilt mount for one of the solar panels yesterday and installed it this morning. With just the one panel tilted it increased the wattage by about 20%. Previously the highest wattage output was 423. After tilting just one panel we achieved 506. This afternoon we went into town and purchased tilt mounts for the remaining 4 panels. It will take a couple days to get them all installed, but I am greatly encouraged. Today we ran the generator for only about half an hour during breakfast and by late afternoon the batteries were fully charged. I am confident that getting the rest of the panels tilted will provide us with enough charging capacity that we will rarely need to run the generator at all. About the only time it will be needed is when we run the convection oven for an extended period of time. Since we do not have a gas oven we have no other way to bake or roast except for the gas bar-b-que which has its limitations too.

Dianna is still not sure about this whole way of living. Even though the rig is set up for self contained living, it does have some limitations and things you need to remember. For example, the big overhead florescent light does not work unless we are plugged in or running the generator. She is not happy about the placement of the 12 volt florescent lights so I may have to add some to make her happy. She is also used to playing internet games on the computer for several hours every day and we don't have the electric power for her to do that yet. After the panels all get tilted we may, but I think she is going through Pogo withdrawal.

We may have to go get water tomorrow. The trailer holds 70 gallons and I have a water bladder that holds 45 gallons that I can take on the back of the truck to a water source. We can probably go for at least a couple weeks without dumping our holding tanks. I have been toying with the idea of finding a large tank I could mount on the truck that would be used to haul wastewater to a dump site as well. If I could find something like that we would not have to move the trailer at all. Only time will tell how it all works out.


  1. I think the mountain range behind the site is rather pretty. It sounds like a great life.

  2. How long are you planning to stay there, or is there not really any long range plans?

    When does the trek to Alaska begin?

  3. Doesn't look like there's a million people there yet, unless they are REALLY spread out a long ways.

    The solar panel news is encouraging. Will they only tilt one way, or can you park however you like and still get good charging? Can you tilt them one way in the morning, then shift them in the afternoon?

  4. Donna - I agree. I enjoy the desert. One thing both of us have noticed is how clean the area is. No litter anywhere.

    Heather - No idea how long we will stay here. Alaska does not start until late May or early June. We want to stay where it is warm.

    Daryl - There are a lot more than it looks. We are 6 miles north of Q and the big camping areas are all south of town. We are about 2 miles up Plomosa Road off 95 and there are probably 500 rigs between 95 and here. I took the photo from a vantage point to show us as being isolated, but we are not really that alone.

    The panels will only lift one way and will not rotate. I will always want to park with my door facing south for solar warming so they only lift that way. Of course, in the summer time it will not be necessary to lift them at all. At a store in town I saw a motorized tilt mounting system with automatic tracker. It would be nice, but would almost double the cost of the solar. Not gonna happen.

  5. Any updates on life in Quartzsite? I bet it was cold there last night.

    Solar panels working well now?