Calamity Janis at Work

Before I tell you about my bad week, here’s the current photo of the house! Maybe I should call is “Casa Morada” (Purple House).  When I first moved to Ecuador, I rented a place called The Purple House! But mine is much cuter. It seemed to take forever do get each thing done; partly because that dark color took a coat of primer plus FOUR coats of paint! With an hour to dry between each coat. I still need to paint the door but I’m searching for the perfect color.

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Last week brought some amazing sunrises:

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And sunsets:

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I finally cooked that free turkey from the Food Bank that I got before Christmas, on my little Weber Q2200 grill. I nested three disposable lasagna pans from the Dollar Tree (2/$100) and put little rolled-up balls of aluminum foil between the first and second pans, to insulate the bottom from the worst of the heat.  Plopped Mr. Turkey in, basted it with butter and then had to deal with the grill lid. The turkey was too big to be able to close the grill lid, so I propped it open with a stick and rigged up a larger hood with heavy duty foil. And had to use sticks to make it stay in place!  Good thing it wasn’t a windy day.

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Even with the foil lid, I lost a lot of heat and could only keep it at 275 °, but it cooked just fine in about 2 1/2 hours, and came out looking beautiful!

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And yes, it’s sitting on my bed! That’s the only place in here that was large enough. It was very tasty…moist and juicy! Five days later Roxie and I are still eating it, but tonight’s dinner will see the end of it. It was good but I’m so glad it’s gone!

So..the bad stuff. Really, I was lucky; it could have been so much worse! But I don’t know if I’m too tired, too old, careless, or just have a death wish.  First off, you know those big 25′ metal tape measures that whirl back into the case? Did you know that if you accidentally get your finger in the way, it makes the biggest, deepest paper cut ever? Yes. It does. That’s what started it off. A couple days later, I stuck my ring finger in the circular saw! I was cutting a very small piece of 1×6 and there wasn’t much room to hold it. I felt it bite and jerked my hand away and was sooo afraid to look! But it was just the tiniest cut, way smaller than the measuring tape cut. I could barely squeeze out a drop of blood. Boy, was that lucky! (Stupid, but lucky) Here’s my circular saw injury. Pardon all the paint.

Saw Cut

Then the third thing. Bad things come in threes, right? So I should be good to go now for a long time. The other day I went around the back of the bushes to rearrange the solar fairy lights. Coming back out, my foot got caught on a root and I fell like a giant oak…right on my face in the dirt! It’s a wonder the neighbors didn’t report feeling an earthquake, and I’m just lucky I didn’t hit my face or head on the tree roots or pallets that were right in my path.  I skinned both knees a little bit, got a giant bruise on the side of one knee (must have hit something besides the dirt), smashed my nose and the nosepiece of my glasses pushed into the bridge of my nose real hard…had an instant bruise there that later spread to 2 black eyes, but only a little, just in the inner corners so it doesn’t look awful. And a little gash on the back of my hand. The BACK of my hand??? Yeah…those hands….where WERE they when they should have been breaking my fall???  Apparently they were just dangling at my sides.

I got up real quick, you know how you do, in case someone is looking you have to pretend you’re OK, ha ha! I hobbled right in and put the homeopathic Arnica gel on all the hurts; already had a hand-sized bruise coming up on the inside fat part of my knee. It really works good…I ended up with just a bruise along the edges of that one, no bruises on my nose and just that little bit in the inside corners of each eye. But boy the next day I felt like I’d been run over by a bus!  Even those useless do-nothing arms had the audacity to hurt! Strangely enough, my glasses didn’t even get scratched. Good ol’ $50 Zenni mail-order glasses!

So that’s pretty much my week. Here’s hoping this next week goes a lot smoother, and involves less Band-Aids and Arnica.

 

 

 

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New Shutters!

Ok so I haven’t made a whole lot of progress. I decided to work on a frivolous task first….my purple shutters! I cut all the wood and sanded it with my new $6.99 Harbor Freight palm sander. It works great! I went and got a quart of “Perfectly Purple” paint, only to find that it wasn’t perfect at all. It looked good on those tiny paint chips, but in real life, not so good. The lavender color on the house is a bluish “cool” color and Perfectly Purple is a reddish “warm” color, so they clashed. It may have been fine for someone else but my fussy little brain kept screaming “IT’S JUST WRONG”! and I would not have been able to live with it. I did do a coat of primer and 3 coats of Perfectly Purple on the first shutter, just to make sure. Then today I had to go to town for some new drill bits because I broke two, and I got a $3.48 sample size of a cool dark purple,  Yup, that’s it! Since I only have that small amount, I guess I will continue to paint everything with the original color and just do a final coat on the outside only with the new color, and hope the sample is enough to do all 4 shutters. What do you think? I love it! It’s frustrating to spend 3 days and end up with only ONE shutter done, but now I know what I’m doing and I have another one all ready to put together.

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I haven’t ever used these woodworking bar clamps before, but they were on sale at Harbor Freight for only $3 each. I’m loving them!

Clamps

I also made a little pallet porch, but I need to put some OSB or plywood on top because the top slats are are little too far apart.  I have a pile of used OSB that might contain something I can use. I was too tired to paw through the pile after moving and stacking pallets to find some good ones, and the top piece on the OSB pile is almost a full sheet, so it’s really heavy. Maybe tomorrow. I’m trying to figure out if I want a porch. I think so, but maybe not quite as big as a pallet. I probably want some kind of rain protection overhead, too. Hahah, rain!? What’s that? They tell me it does rain here during the summer Monsoon season.

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Pallet Porch

I have mentioned before that I am eligible to get free food from the local Food Bank. So last Wed. I went up early, at 10 a.m. Never again! There were 25 people in line in front of me, not counting the 2 Indian women who saw a friend ahead of me and took cuts. (Grrr) It took more than an hour to get through the line, and my knees were not happy. Usually I go around noon and there’s no waiting. I drew a chance for a turkey or chicken, and I got a 12# turkey! I already had a turkey breast so I’m seeing a LOT of turkey in my future! With no oven, I guess I’ll have to try and cook it on the bbq grill. I’m pretty sure the grill lid won’t shut but maybe I can make a hood out of heavy duty foil.  They also gave us some broccoli and pretty purple cauliflower. (Never have seen it purple!) Anyway, ICK. I thought maybe the neighbors could use it, so I took it up there in the box it came in.  I explained that I’d gotten it at the Food Bank and that I didn’t like it, and could they use it? She looked a little perplexed but said “Sure!”. So I stayed and chatted for just a couple minutes and then as I was leaving, she ran in the kitchen and came back with an apple and an orange and said “here, take these”. She’s from Russia, and as I was walking back to the car I wondered, did she think I gave her broccoli and cauliflower as a Christmas present??? Maybe she thinks it’s some crazy American custom!

I had Christmas dinner a few days early, because I bought that turkey breast on sale and have no freezer….I had to cook it once it thawed out. But I had leftovers on Christmas day, and they were just as good the 3rd time around! I wanted to cook it on my little Weber Q gas grill but it was a really windy day and it kept blowing the flame around. So I brought it in and cooked it on top of the stove in my heavy dutch oven with just a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan. It turned out amazing, even though I let it get a little overdone. It was done in less than 1 1/2 hours, and very tender and juicy.   I also had Stove Top Stuffing, gravy and mashed potatoes. And cranberry applesauce. Yum.

Christmas here was low-key. I worked on my shutters and read a new book most of the day. In the afternoon my Russian neighbor came over and invited me to their place that evening but I turned it down. That’s exactly the kind of thing I DON’T want! I like my solitude. I guess I never should have given her those veggies for Christmas!!

I have a lovely new road! Until last week, my “road” was just a two-track extending from the existing county-maintained road.  The first 60′ or so were nothing but rocks…big and small. I learned to keep to the far right so the big ones wouldn’t clunk on the bottom of the car.

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Road Before

Then the road scraper came through and I heard it and RAN up to talk to the guy. He said that they only develop the roads when someone lives there, but he would tell his supervisor and they’d get it done soon. He was a young really sweet and kind Indian guy.

Well…it was only 3 or 4 days later when here he comes again!

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He pulled up dirt from below my place to cover all the rocks. He said some of them were too big and they’d break his blade if he tried to grade them out. Now it’s a real road, smooth as a baby’s bottom! I hope they can come back out with gravel pretty soon. Actually here they use cinders. There are cinders everywhere! All of the rocks on my property (and there are many) are cinders, large and small.

Road

Road After

 

My other neighbors Candace and Frank took their RV and all 3 dogs and went to relatives for Christmas and I fed their cat. In return,  I got to do a load of laundry. Thank goodness I decided to do my laundry just a few days after they left, because the cat left a dead rabbit right next to the laundry room door!  I had my arms full of dirty clothes and didn’t see it, and stepped on it with my bare feet. Ugh!  I threw it over the fence into the field next door. (The rabbit, not the cat)

Oh gee I have to put in some kind of product link to Amazon…..how about this? I ordered a Kreg Jig! Until a few months ago I swear I had never heard of a Kreg Jig, but now seems like everywhere I turn, people are using one. It makes angled holes to join two pieces of wood together (making a corner). I’m going to be needing one. Here’s the one I got: Kreg Jig   Hey I think I just figured out how to insert a LINK so you don’t have to copy and paste any more! Wow, I’m feeling very smart!

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Day Two Tiny House Build

Wow! By the end of the second day, the shed was complete! Three guys, 1 1/2 days, done! I liked how the windows looked before they were installed but now I’m not happy. It’s not anything I can remedy though, so I’ll suck it up and deal with it. I wanted 24×36 single hung windows and these are 3×3 sliders, due to a last-minute problem with the windows they ordered. (They came in with frosted glass!) I really think they are too big for the size of the wall. Not to mention, now I don’t have any space left for wall cabinets in the kitchen, and there may not be enough space between the door and window for the propane heater. I had it all planned soooo carefully! Sigh. OK. I’m just going to go with the flow. Really. Soon.

 

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I do love the color! Yes, it’s lavender! (Behr Foxglove, to be exact). I never thought I had a single girly-girl gene in me but apparently there was one hiding somewhere. I have to build shutters and windowboxes and they’ll be painted deep purple, along with the door, or maybe I’ll leave the door white. I’ll paint the other stuff first and see how it looks.  I think it’ll be great! I’ve been thinking about this color combination for a couple years now.

I keep coming up with things that have to be done before insulation, when all I want to do is get it insulated and move in!! But first I have to build the studwalls for the bathroom, closet and a short 2′ wall between the door and the end of the kitchen counter. And then I have to run the wiring.  And I woke up out of a sound sleep at 4 a.m. and remembered that I also have to run the plumbing before I insulate! Gad, it’s going to be MONTHS before I can move. I don’t plan on getting a water heater right now but I guess I’d better plumb for hot and cold water at the sink & shower. I can get a little propane instant hot water heater for around $100 on ebay, and it would be nice to have someday.

I ran into another problem, with the propane heat. I had planned on getting one of those vent-free propane wall heaters for around $120. Well. Thank goodness I found out before I bought one and installed it….they don’t work at higher elevations! Some are only good to 2000′, some are good to 4500′ but for my elevation here (6700′) I seem to only have two choices….a direct-vent heater that’s way bigger than I need for $500-600, or another Olympian Wave heater like I have and love in the camper, only bigger. They are good to 12,000′.  The problem with the vent-free heaters is that they now have those low-oxygen sensors and at higher elevation, there’s less oxygen so it shuts itself down all the time! So I guess I’ll be going with the Olympian Wave 8 heater like this: http://amzn.to/2AZJ4VH (Affiliate Link). It has 3 settings; 4200, 6000 and 8000 btu. I was hoping to get a heater that had a thermostat but this will be OK; I get up once or twice a night anyway and can adjust it then, if needed. Hate to have to pay $300 instead of $120 though. That’s one whole month’s construction budget, and I’ll have to have it before I move in, unless Spring arrives before I get everything else done!

Yesterday I went to town and ran a bunch of errands. It’s so exhausting! But I got some terrific bargains at the thrift shops! I got a big bag of 16 electrical switches, one dimmer and one outlet $3 at one thrift store, plus 4 juice glasses and 2 large drinking glasses for $.25 each. The second thrift store was having a “yard sale” and everything in their outdoor area was 1/2 price! I got all the switch & outlet plates I need for $1.50, a brand new still-in-the-box smoke alarm for $1, a pine coffee table for $5, and a sofa sleeper for $37.50! Yeah..I bought a sofa. I have to rent a trailer and go back on Tuesday to pick it up. And I know it’s going to be in the way while I’m trying to work on the house, but I couldn’t resist. The upholstery is in great shape but it’s that old 80’s navy, burgundy & green plaid. I’ve been reading up on fabric painting with Chalked Paint and apparently it will cover anything, and the fabric feels fairly soft afterward, so I’ll probably try that. If that doesn’t work, maybe a slipcover.  http://amzn.to/2CPv9is

I don’t want a coffee table but this one has 2 very nice slabs of butcher block wood that I can use for another project I have in mind.  I just have to take it apart and sand them a little. Maybe I can even find a use for the two Shaker-style ends. It says “Made in Vietnam” so I have no idea what kind of wood it is; it has that yellowish Pine color. I’ll probably whitewash it to tone down the yellow. The top is 20″x40″ and the bottom shelf is 16″x36″. Solid wood pieces like this would have cost more than $30 at Home Depot!

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A Little Delay

My shed delivery was delayed from Monday until Thursday. And I’m glad! I just decided Monday (the original delivery date) that I don’t want the shed in the site I had all picked out (and that neighbor Frank had cut a bunch of limbs off the trees, and I dug all the rocks out!) I think a better place will be right where the camper is sitting now. And oh how I dreaded having to move the camper! In addition to all the “normal” junk that I carry around, I now have a whole bunch of extra things that live in here now, since they can’t be allowed to freeze. Four house plants (including Celery), 5 huge cans of Great Stuff Pro, a big can of Great Stuff Gun Cleaner, a couple quarts of paint. I also had to dismantle Roxie’s little pen and dismantle the Buddy heater propane hose that’s threaded in through an outside baggage door, and it’s all duct-taped shut, too!  I wanted to hook a tow rope onto the ramshackle stupid-looking pallet “shed” that was here, but I couldn’t find my tow rope.

The new site has a lot of advantages and only one disadvantage; it won’t get much protection from the wind. But it will be South-facing, which is the best orientation for getting winter sun and keeping out the summer sun. I can leave the wifi booster in the same place, and I know it works great there. The solar panel also works great here, without having to reposition it at all during the day.  And the driveway will be shorter, if I ever get around to getting cinders for it.  And this site is much much larger. The other site was just too small; the front yard could only have been about 5′ deep, and directly in back I would have been stumbling around on big rocks.  This site has good access for a big propane tank and 275 gallon water tank as well.  So I’m pleased. Frank came over Tuesday morning and cut one tree down and cut a bunch of  branches back out of the way.

I worked all day yesterday on getting ready to move the camper. The new spot is right around the corner so it won’t be too far to go to reach the fridge from the shed. I’m afraid it’ll be awhile before I can spare the money for even a used RV fridge! I moved some more rocks and a pile of dead branches & twigs. There were 3 piles like that here, and now they’re all in one big pile. Hopefully I can burn it one of these days, if it ever rains. Boy I was really tired & sore by the end of the day. I finally got the camper moved and set back up right before dark.

Oh! And yesterday afternoon I heard some big equipment up on the hill, with the beep-beep backup alarm. I saw a glimpse of yellow and went flying up there….it was the road scraper guy! My road is a county-maintained road but in this huge subdivision with so few homes, they don’t develop all the roads unless someone lives there.  I have a stretch of rocks about 50-60′ long that I have to creep super-slow over. He said he didn’t think he could use the road scraper on them because some were really big, and they’d break the blade. But they have some special cinder mix of big and small stuff that they just put down over the rocks. He said he’d tell his supervisor about it, and I’d get a high priority……and that they always lay new gravel before the first snow, so it would probably be in the next 2-3 weeks!!  I’ll have a real ROAD! Wow… a house AND a road! I’m feeling pretty giddy!

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This morning the shed arrived. They had to drive up from Tucson, and arrived at 11:45. Within 20 minutes they had the trailer half unloaded and had a good start on putting the floor together! I had asked if they could insulate the floor at all, since it would be nearly impossible to do when it’s just a foot or so off the ground. They included 1″ of rigid foam in the quote but it’s so much better! Once they got the floor framing done, they tipped the whole thing up and nailed 4×8 sheets of Masonite to the whole underside. That will work as a vapor barrier and a mouse/rat barrier too. Then they let it back down and filled between the joists with loose cellulose, so it’ll be R-19! And the floor joists are 12″ on center, not the usual 16″ on center. It should be very sturdy!

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Tilting the floor to install Masonic on underside

The lead guy told me that the 2×3 windows I wanted came in with frosted glass! So they went to Lowes and the smallest vinyl double-pane windows they had with grids were 3×3. Yikes, that does make a difference to my plan but I can make it work.  I love the look, and they are high-quality Pella windows.  He said that the 3 windows cost him $550!! Three 2×3 windows would have cost well under $400, but since they have to eat the cost, I don’t mind. They are sliders instead of single-hung, but I guess that’s OK too.

He also gave me a choice of which end the 3rd window goes, so I chose the opposite end from what I had on my original plan. That way I’ll be able to see if someone is coming up the driveway, and all the mechanical stuff…fridge & stove vents, etc. will be on the side of the house that no one sees. I just have to flip my plan & make a mirror image. It’ll actually end up better, as I had specified a right-hinged door and that was wrong.

Wow I’m very impressed with these guys! They were here less than 6 hours and have the floor all done & insulated, the studwalls all up, windows in, and the roof all dried in! They really know what they’re doing. And the materials are quite a bit better quality than what *I* would have used. Better windows, and the sidng is 3/4″ tongue and groove…I probably would have used 1/2″ or even the cheapie 3/8″.  They caulk all the seams and spackle the nailheads before painting.  He said they have only ever had 3 callbacks for quality issues, and I believe it.

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Sorry about all the shadows on this last photo; it was getting late in the day. It looks rather plain but once I build the shutters and windowboxes, it’ll be really cute. They’ll be back tomorrow, for more excitement!

I’m getting one of these personal alarms, supposedly for use when you get mugged, the 130 db alarm scares away the mugger. But I’m not too worried about getting mugged; I’m getting one for use around here, if I’ve fallen and can’t get up, for instance. (Hey, I’m OLD!) It comes with a carabiner so I can hook it onto my waistband if I don’t have a pocket, it’s VERY loud, and the alarm keeps up for 30 minutes unless you shut it off. I’m going to tell the closest neighbors about it so if they hear it, they’ll come and check out what’s wrong. I saw a Facebook ad and they wanted $90…..this one is less than $10 on Amazon.   http://amzn.to/2BJCrqy

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I actually looked into getting a Life Alert, but they require a land-line telephone.

 

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Delivery Date Scheduled!

I’ve got a delivery date of Dec. 11-13 for the shed! One week from today! They are going to assemble it on-site, which will be fun to watch. The weather forecast looks pretty good, with highs in the mid-50’s.  I’m glad it’s a Mennonite company and not Amish; hopefully I can take lots of construction photos.

Then comes wiring and insulation before I can move in. Dang, that’s going to take way too long at turtle-ish rate for getting things done. I’m guessing it’ll be the first of the year before I can stay in it, especially since I won’t even be able to purchase all the supplies needed until my next Social Security check on Dec. 27.  I’m only going to wire it for 12V DC (battery) power. I will have a small inverter to convert the 12V to 120V to run the wifi booster, recharge Kindles, phone and cordless tool batteries. Quite a few 120V things can be converted to 12V just by changing the power cord! Like TV’s, almost all smaller TV’s are built as 12V, then they put that big “wart” plug that makes it 120v (and hogs the whole outlet usually; you can’t plug two things in at the same time).  If you cut off the wart plug and rewire it to a cigarette lighter plug, voila; it runs off the battery! It seems crazy to take a 12V TV that’s converted to 120V and run it off an inverter that changes 12V power to 120! If you look around, lots and lots of things have those 110V “wart” plugs. (I’ve added this after publishing….it has been pointed out to me that not all “wall warts” are 12V. You’ll have to look on the plug; some are 5v, some are 6v.) I’ll have (eventually) a 12V ceiling fan, and all the lights will be 12V LED’s.  I don’t plan to have any real energy-sucking appliances…no toaster (sob!), no microwave or toaster oven, no air conditioner, no hairdryer.  I will have a 120V “swamp cooler” (evaporative cooler) in summer but it only uses around 100 watts/hr.

The insulation will be done in layers. The shed will have continuous roof ridge and soffit vents, so there will need to be a 1″ space left next to the roof for them to do their job. Then there’ll be a layer of 3/4″ foil-backed rigid foam, which will be a radiant barrier, reflecting heat back to the roof vents. All seams will be sealed against the joists with Great Stuff foam sealant, forming a wind barrier. Then there will be 3 more inches of rigid foam.  The side walls will also have the radiant barrier foam, with a 3/4″ airspace. It’s not much, but it should help. Also sealed with Great Stuff.  And then 2″ more rigid foam.  Since I only have 2×4″ walls and 2×6″ roof joists, this will give me the most R-Value, though it won’t be cheap! But since we do have temperature extremes here, I need to try and make it as efficient as possible. Unfortunately it means spending a bunch of money right off the bat, which I’m sure will also mean I’ll have to wait for more money to come in before I can get it all purchased.

Winter has arrived! It’s been so nice, way warmer than the norm. But I think it’s over; last night’s low was 22, tonight 17 and Wednesday 12!! And it SNOWED today! Just a bit.  I’m having a problem keeping my plants warm enough…I now have 4 small plants (including Celery who is not growing at all but still looks healthy) sharing camper space with me, and I don’t HAVE any extra space! I’ve shuffled some non-freezable things to the car.

This time I’m going to copy what another blogger is doing and show Amazon links to some of the items that have been purchased recently. Maybe you’ll see your items on the list! Sorry you may have to copy and paste them into your address bar. From there you can access all of Amazon’s goodies.

Gerber Center-Drive Multi-Tool   http://amzn.to/2AzvIMC

6 Pc. LED Fairy Lights   http://amzn.to/2AXhMhO

LifeLine AAA 300 PSI 12 Volt Air Compressor    http://amzn.to/2jV0BCX

 

 

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My She Shack

Oops! It’s been pointed out that I jumped from “I can’t build it myself” to “I’ve ordered my shed” with no explanation of what it is I’ve ordered! Sorry. I decided to go with a Mennonite shed company in Tucson (4.5 hours away). They deliver free! http://www.Mennoniteshed.com.  If you go to their website, many of their sheds look like this:

shed

Really cute, right?! Especially with that hobbit door! Well, that’s a problem because it’s a shed door, and it wouldn’t keep the cold out in winter. It’s actually a square door, with the arch painted on. Also these are just 6′ walls. So I’m getting 8′ sidewalls and a regular house-type exterior door with 9-light window.  I love that they have roof overhangs all the way around, and the floor joists are 2×6 12″ on center, not the usual 16″. They’re willing to provide continuous soffit and roof vents, floor insulation and double pane windows. To me, nothing screams “garden shed” more than those roofs that stop at the walls, with no overhangs. Also it’ll have a 5/12 roof pitch, not that really shallow pitch most of the sheds have. Mine will look more like a tiny house!  There might even be space for a small loft; I’m waiting to see just how much headroom there’d be.

I also really like that they don’t use those ugle galvanized metal plates to hold the roof trusses together. Here’s what theirs look like:

roof joist

So it’s going to be 10×16, with three 24×36 single hung windows (with double pane glass) and just the one door, no double doors on the end.  They really gave me a good price, for all the extras (double pane glass, house-type door, floor insulation, soffit & roof vents) they are only adding $400 to the stock price!  I staked out 10×16 on my site and it’s HUGE!  Almost 3 times the size I’ve been living in!

My first task will be to add reflective radiant barrier to the roof and sidewalls. It really reduces the amount of heat buildup inside the shack in summer! I’ll leave a 1″ gap between the roof and the radiant barrier, to let the vents do their job and carry the heat away.  This makes for what they call a “hot roof” which does shorten the lifespan, but at my age (69 today!), who cares?  It’ll still outlive me.  I will also need to leave a 3/4″ gap between the radiant barrier and the inside of the siding, and that heat will have nowhere to go but at least it won’t be leaching into the interior space. I found some foil-covered 3/4″ rigid foam board at Lowes that I’ll be using. I was so happy to see that; it combines two steps into one! The alternative is to staple Reflectix (foil-backed bubble wrap) to each of the joists & studs, then add the rigid foam or other insulation.

I will use all rigid foam in the roof, as I’ve read that when it snows, it blows in the roof vent and can get everything all wet. They don’t have much snow here, but when it does, I sure don’t want my ceiling insulation getting all wet and moldy (which could happen if I used fiberglass) Besides, with just 2×6 roof joists, I’ll need the extra R-value of the foam.(Most real homes have 2×10’s or even 2×12’s, depending on the roof span). I looked at how much insulation is recommended for my area and it’s the same amount as the southern half of Michigan!!  There’s no way I can match that, but at least it’s small and will be easy to heat.

And since I’m going to be making a 3/4″ airspace in the walls and adding 3/4″ foil/foam, I will only have 2″ of space left so I guess I’ll use the 2″ thick denim batts.  Can you imagine installing fiberglass batts and then not having a shower afterward??!!  Shudder!!

I’m still patiently waiting for a build date. They are thinking about pre-fabbing it and bringing all the components here to erect on-site. I’d love that!

 

 

 

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Progress? Not So Much.

I’ve been holding off doing another blog entry, hoping to have good news to report. Well I do know that my Rent To Own application has been approved and they’re working on setting a delivery date, but so far no news on when it’ll be. They say they probably will pre-fab the components and erect it on-site, which will be fun to watch!

I had a weird Thanksgiving. I held off grocery shopping for as long as I could, thinking perhaps one of the neighbors would invite me for dinner. No dice….until the day before! Then two of them invited me, and the 3rd one invited me on Thanksgiving day! By then I’d already bought my little tiny cornish game hen and a big can of yams. I wanted that yummy sweet potato casserole with the crunchy pecan/brown sugar topping (not a marshmallow fan). But with no oven, I ended up throwing everything in a pan on the stove. It’s pretty gloppy but it tastes good! The darn baby chick was a real hassle. I’ve got a pizza stone on the bbq grill but it’s a tad too big, so the hood doesn’t quite close. That means the stone gets really hot, but the airspace doesn’t, because the lid is open. I put the hen on top of aluminum foil balls (so the bottom wouldn’t burn) and put it on top of the stone. Much later, the grill  had only gotten up to 300 degrees. Another 30 min. later, it was completely cold….I’d run out of propane! So I had to scrounge around and find a propane cannister that had some gas in it (I refill my own) and start all over. I think it took something like 2.5 hours to cook that teeny-tiny bird!! Finally got to eat just after dark.  I had plans to make the whole schmear…dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, etc. Everything but pie.  But I abandoned all that and just had the bird and some sweet potato glop.

I’m a legal resident of AZ now! I got my AZ driver’s license, car insurance and changed the car and camper registration over to AZ, which cost WAY more than I thought….$112 for both! You have a choice of getting registration for 1, 2 or 5 years and it’s a little cheaper to go multi-year but I didn’t have enough money.  Today I went to the post office to send back my NC license plates, and get my mail. No birthday cards…..c’mon people!! I was thinking my friends would all send birthday cards this year since I finally have an address after nearly 5 years. Guess not. Maybe Christmas cards?

My Honey-Do List is long every day. And the bad thing is, I’m the Honey! I’m chipping away at things but I’ve recently been a little laid up with some weird muscle strain in my back. Or side. Or chest! I never could decide exactly where the pain was. I think it’s from tossing rocks off the shed site and/or using the pickaxe to dig out the larger rocks. I’m not used to manual labor but I’m getting there.

At the little general store where I get propane & water, there’s a sign that says: “Firearms are welcome on the premises. Please keep weapons holstered until need arises, at which time judicial marksmanship is appreciated”. HAH! 

We’ve had a couple really pretty sunsets…….

I don’t qualify for food stamps, but I do qualify for the local Food Bank. They distribute food every other Wednesday so I went the other day. Oh my! LOADS of stuff! I’m kind of a fussy eater so some of it I gave to the neighbors but still have plenty of goodies. No meat; I was hoping they gave meat. They had some whole chickens but apparently not enough to give everyone one, so they had a drawing. I didn’t win.  One of the things we got was a big bag of strange tomatoes….almost black! I thought they were plums so was very disappointed when I discovered they were tomatoes. I don’t like fresh tomatoes but love them cooked, so I  skinned, cut up and cooked most of them and made a big pot of chili. I’m gonna be so sick of chili!!  I sure wish I had a freezer!!  We also got apples, organic cucumbers, cantaloupes and mini-watermelons, 6# of raisins (??) 3 doz. eggs, some canned veggies, cranberry sauce and soups, and boxes of mac & cheese. Wow! What do you do with 6# of raisins??? I tried them as a snack and they’re pretty blah.

Here’s where the shed will go, between these two trees. This site give me the best protection from the strong winds. All the rocks you see are now gone except for two really big ones that I’ll need help moving. My neighbor Frank came over this morning (sweaty manual labor before breakfast; isn’t there some kind of law against that?!) He brought his chainsaw and trimmed back a bunch of the limbs on the trees on both sides, so now I have a 23′ wide space. He took most of the larger limbs home with him too, so I don’t have quite so much mess, and he moved those big rocks. I’m gonna put up a low picket fence in the front yard so Roxie will have her own yard and for the first time in nearly 5 years, I won’t have to walk her on a leash! I’ll put down lots of mulch too, so her coat doesn’t get full of the nasty stickers that are all over the place here. Boy that’ll be nice to just be able to open the door and let her out! 

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I sure wish there wasn’t a burning ban, but we’ve had something like 100 days of no rain. When I bought the property, there was a crappy old camper set up here. The neighbor (a friend of the previous owner) assured me that the huge pile of wood trash & pallets would be removed. I hope she’s right. She’s come after 3-4 loads so far but that junk just makes me crazy!  If only I could light a match to it, it’d be gone in a few hours.

I stupidly bought a few things at Dollar Tree to make my own Christmas wreath for the door. WHY??  I hate crafts!! My mother was very artsy but she my brother grabbed all the artistic genes and left me with none. I bought a grapevine wreath, a large silver bell, some bows and 15′ of fake garland. I was going to wrap the garland all around the wreath but didn’t get far with that….boring! Then I noticed that this nasty glitter was all over the place! I ended up taking the garland off and now I have a very very plain wreath with a bow and a bell that’s lost a lot of it’s glitter. Do I care? No. I tried. I sort of draped the garland up and over the camper roof and that’s gonna be it for decorating this year.

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And here’s the part where I’m supposed to advertise some products. I’ll do vitamins today Please copy and paste into your browser!  Any of these links will take you to Amazon, where you can shop for anything else you’re looking for!

Did you know that recent studies have shown that if you have high levels of Vit. C in your system, your risk of heart attack and early death are clearly reduced.  Of course it’s best to get it from fruits and vegetables, but failing that, a supplement is a good idea. I like this brand of Vit. C because it’s sourced in Scotland, not China. Most Vit. C comes from China.    http://amzn.to/2BqGdSs

I also like their brand of Vitamin D3. Vit. D3 is an important immune-system booster!  http://amzn.to/2hTQyxs

And it’s best to take Vitamin K2 along with Vitamin D, to help absorption.  http://amzn.to/2hTs3QX

If you’re over 50, your levels of CoQ10 are reducing. If you are taking a statin, taking a CoQ10 supplement may decrease side effects plus boost your levels.  Be sure to get the kind that has black pepper (bioperine) to help with absorption. I like this one: http://amzn.to/2iSWaJp

 

 

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Moved In

I moved the camper in on Sunday. There’s a little cubby-hole the perfect size, between two rows of nice bushy pinon trees.

Concho Carport

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I’ve made a walkway with some old plywood, and put out my solar lights, and it feels like Home already. I’m working on getting the rock collection out of my car. I have to force myself to put them on the ground here; they’re going to get dirty! But I remind myself that they’re ROCKS, for heaven’s sake, and they’re washable.

I have this lovely deluxe “toolshed” right next to the camper. It’s made of old pallets and looks like scrap pieces of corrugated plastic roofing…..it leaves a lot to be desired!

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I am very impressed though that she (the former landowner) worked the roofing around a tree branch! (See it sticking up through the roof on the right side?)

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I do need a place to keep my tools but I’m not sure this is it. I suppose I could wrap the sides with a tarp if it’s going to rain, but it does need a different door. Dragging a big ol’ pallet back and forth is way too much work.  I can’t do much of anything just yet because I bought a cordless saw & drill, charger and batteries on ebay and they’re just now all trickling in. I’ve got all the materials to make a couple sawhorses….maybe tomorrow. I had all the 2×4 pieces cut at Home Depot, and bought one of the brackets at a ReStore for $2; the other I bought for $4 at Harbor Freight.

I bought some plants yesterday! A nice big mum that was on Clearance for $4.10 (and is in a pretty pot that I can reuse) and a really pretty bright red Cyclamen for $1.55. I guess with the weather getting colder they won’t last long, but it’s great to have some color around here! And so nice that I don’t have to find a space to carry them in the car when I move.  I still have little Celery but she’s not doing too great. The leaves are nice and green but she’s not growing at all. I don’t think this weather agrees with her. I read that celery likes 70/60, and it’s been a good bit colder than that at night. I do put her in the car at night, and now also the mum & cyclamen too. Maybe they’ll stay pretty longer if they don’t get frosted. It’s starting to get colder; forecast in the low 30’s for the next week or so at night.

I am realizing that I can’t build my own shack. For one thing, I don’t have enough money. And the other thing is that I just don’t have the stamina and strength any more. I sure hate to admit that. (You all probably knew that before I did) So I’m looking at buying a pre-built shed on the Rent To Own plan, which carries a horrendous interest rate.  I’ve found a place in Tucson that really does a nice job; their sheds have roof overhangs, soffit and continuous roof vents, and 2×6 floor joists 12″ on center. And the roof trusses are nice-looking, without those ugly galvanized plates holding everything together like most of the shed manufacturers use.  I’m still gathering information right now & trying to make sure I can afford it. Otherwise I’ll be living in the camper for another year or so, and I REALLY would like to be in a real structure before the hard winter weather hits.  Well it’d be pretty tough to keep the camper cool enough in the summer here too. If that happens I’ll probably have to take to the road again in summer, and maybe this winter too, if it gets too cold here.  So I’m hoping I can figure out a way to get a pre-built shack.

Some of you have already noticed that I removed the link for convenient shopping. The rules have changed, and I can’t post a general link; I have to post links to actual products. So here are few things that I like and use a lot. (Clicking on any of these product links will take you to where you can do a search for what you really want) Thanks! (Please copy and paste into your browser)

Stuff we like:

Camco Handy Mat. This is a great little mat for in front of the camper door, or under your dog’s exercise pen. It folds up very small and is cheap enough that you can just toss it out when it starts getting frayed or horribly dirty! http://amzn.to/2yjuQcV

Bonavita Coffee Dripper. I love this thing…it was a gift from a friend, and it’s a little pricey but I love that the porcelain keeps the coffee hot, and it doesn’t drip right through immediately. It will hold the brew until you’re ready to dispense it into your cup.  http://amzn.to/2yj4ojJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Exciting News

Exciting news!  I’ve found The One. No, not a man; a piece of property! It is a little over an acre with good gravel roads almost all the way there (there’s a rocky section that I’m told the county will take care of if I tell them someone is living there). I’m not going to say it already has a driveway, but it’s been driven over quite a bit so it’s packed down good; I don’t think I’ll need to do anything more to it until July when the monsoons start. It has lots of nice bushy pinon and cedar trees that are good for shade and windbreakers, and also some grassy and rocky areas. It drops off at the property line on one side so there are beautiful views over the valley.  The closest neighbor is about 500′ away (but not in sight) and some friends live just 1/3 mile away.  And it’s in a county that has minimal building codes and practically nonexistent code enforcement.  There are people living in storage sheds all over this subdivision!  Taxes are $39 a year plus $100 a year to “subscribe” to the fire district. It’s less than 20 miles to big supermarkets, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.

Concho View

I am very excited! I can’t think of a way to get a building to live in before spring, so it means winterizing the camper….reflectix on the windows, foam board skirting all around the bottom, and cramming strips of foam (A/C weatherstripping) into every crack and crevice I can find! And getting a larger heater. Last night it was 30° here with no wind and the camper stayed at 59°. That’s fine, but I’m going to need something a little beefier for when it gets colder.

Concho View 2

And I guess the only way I’m going to get a “house” to live in is to build it myself. Since I had to borrow some of the purchase price, I don’t want to go even deeper in debt to buy a little storage building. And the Rent To Own prices are ridiculous…it’s something like 40% interest! I didn’t really like the look of the storage buildings anyway; they are not cute or pretty. Most of them don’t have any overhangs and super-cheap aluminum windows. You can upgrade to double pane windows for $150-250 extra per window! That’s robbery….I can buy a nice thermopane window for well under $150.  I’m sure I can build a She Shed for about half what they are selling for; it’ll just take me a lot longer.

There is electricity near the property but in this county you can’t get electricity hookup until you have a septic system, and I can’t afford that, nor will I really need a septic system as I’ll have a dry toilet/composting system.  So I’ll be continuing to live off-grid. I’ll get an additional solar panel and some beefy 6-volt golf cart batteries, which will give me 250 amps of power. I’ll wire the shed for 12 volt lights and cigarette lighter plugs. I’ll get a large water tank and have water delivered ($25 for up to 500 gallons). Wow, running water! It can be pumped with a simple battery-driven pump.  Appliances will be propane; RV stove and refrigerator.

So….the basic theme of this blog is going to change from boondocking & travel, to the agonies of a 69 year old woman trying to build her own Tiny House. I’m sure my back and knees will not thank me! I hope everyone will hang in there with me. I’ve built an 800 sq. ft. home, a 10×16 cabin, 13z22 barn cabin, and a 14×24 houseboat. So I know how to do it all; including wiring and the minimal amount of plumbing I’ll need to do.  It’ll just take me a lot longer because I’m old and creaky. Heaven help us if I have to get down on my knees to do anything! Maybe I should invest in a Life Alert……please help me, I’m kneeling and I can’t get up!

Concho Carport

I have found a self-storage facility nearby that rents 5×10 spaces for $30 a month so I’m going to do that for a while. I’ve GOT to get my car emptied out! Right now it’s so full, I can barely fit groceries into it. I need to be able to carry building supplies, and maybe buy some things at thrift shops that I’ll eventually be able to use on the shed.  Wow, and I can finally get all the rocks out of the car too! If you open any door (including the driver’s door) you see rocks. Some of them are pretty good-sized, too. I’ll bet my gas mileage will improve when I get all that weight out of the car!

Concho driveway

I have been dogsitting for my new neighbor friends while they went to a funeral in Oklahoma. They have three tiny dogs and a doggy door, so all I really have to do is give them food & water and put them in their crates at night & let them out in the morning. I’m camped in their driveway (with electric hookup!!)  I go over to the house every evening to spend a few hours with them. It has nothing to do with being able to watch their big screen TV with every available channel, honest! When Candace was still here, the dogs were all over me. As soon as they left, the dogs were terrified of me and would run out the doggy door the moment I came in the house. They weren’t eating much and I couldn’t get them to go in their crates at night because they ran if I came near them. Then one night it was chilly so I borrowed her robe from the bedroom, and draped it over me. Suddenly all three dogs were all over me……they loved me!! Since then it’s been much better; even the really skittish Yorkie lets me pet him, and the dogs go into their crates at night all by themselves.  I’ve been taking Roxie over there with me and they all pretty much ignore each other.

 

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Wandering Around Eastern AZ

 I have been camping in way too much heat lately, and I’m very grumpy. I seem to choose the places that don’t have shade, and once the camper is set up on the inside, which takes about 20 min., I’m not about to move it! It’s hard to tell where the sun’s path will be when you arrive in the morning, or at noon. I’ve really been moving around a lot lately. I just came from 3 days at Concho where it was around 85 every day, then 2 days at Payson where it was in the low 80’s but one day I had a bunch of errands to run and when I got back, it was 101 degrees inside the camper! And me with no electricity so no real way to cool it down. UGH. I just don’t tolerate heat.

I moved to a little higher elevation in Pine, then a few days in Strawberry. MUCH nicer! 

Here’s the campfire ring at my Pine campsite. I thought it was very elaborate…much higher than the usual single ring of rocks.

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And here’s the view from my Pine campsite. It’s really just on the edge of a fairly ugly dirt clearing but there’s nice shade and a great wifi signal, and only a mile to town. (It is ½ mile S. of the Pine Trailhead, on the west side of Hwy. 260/87. GPS 34.36650 -1211.44060)  There are also a few small pullout sites and a vault toilet at the trailhead, and that’s probably where I would go next time.

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I am again on the hunt for a nice cheapie piece of property to call HOME. I’ve now been wandering for more than 2 ½ years. I looked at several places in eastern Apache County but nothing really appealed at all. So tomorrow I’m heading back to a different area to try again. I visited some lovely folks (Candace & Frank) who are friends of a friend of a friend (good ol’ Facebook)! And fell in love with their place and the general area. On my way back out from their house I saw a real estate sign on a parcel that’s heavily treed (pinon and cedar trees, only 20-25’ tall but nice and bushy).  That one is a little more than I am able to spend but I’m sure there are other parcels for sale around there. I am working with a realtor, Mike from Landmark Realty…he’s great! He has spent a good bit of time looking up the restrictive covenants for all the areas I’m interested in, to make sure RV’s are allowed!

The way Apache County works this is that you can’t really live full-time in an RV unless you are in an RV park or are holding a building permit for a home; then you can legally live in an RV on your property for up to a year, and you must have a septic system. But you can live in your RV for 6 months without a septic system, leave for two weeks and then come back for another 6 months, on and on ad infinitum. They consider that “camping”. You just have to go somewhere and dump your tanks. Since I don’t have any black or graywater tanks, for me it’s a matter of dumping my porta potty in a vault toilet somewhere. I probably will switch to a dry toilet/composting system. 

My friend Donna from Cottonwood came with her greyhound “Queenie” to camp for a few days., so I moved to a higher elevation campsite and one that’s more scenic. Queenie is the sweetest thing! (Well so is Donna) She’s a racetrack rescue who just recently had a front leg amputated due to cancer. She gets around pretty good! Donna has a Chalet model XL1930 A-frame camper that’s massive….it’s 6’ longer than mine, 6” wider and way taller, with a wet bath, double sinks, bigger fridge with freezer and high sidewalls so the kitchen counter height is really comfortable for cooking. And a queen-sized bed! Look at the difference between our two campers…we’re like Mutt and Jeff!

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We had a visitor yesterday morning…..a scruffy-looking young guy came to Donna’s camper and said he needed a jump-start for his car. She told him that her car was new and had a bunch of electronics that she didn’t want to chance messing up. (good answer, I thought!) She asked me if I’d do it and I said the same thing. We were both just leery of this guy, and for no good reason; he seemed like a perfectly nice guy. But….don’t they all?!  We both felt really bad about not being helpful but heck, we’re two unarmed old ladies!! When Donna went back to tell him I wouldn’t do it either, I put my shoes on, got out my trusty hatchet and had the phone on and dialed 9-1, all ready to punch in that last number and then run over and whack his head off. Or should I whack his head off first?? Of course he went away quietly and everything was fine, but you just can’t be too careful these days.  A little while later a car went by with a young couple in it and I stopped them and told them the situation and they said they’d help the guy. So now we don’t feel quite as guilty.

The ground here is very rocky!

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And here’s another pretty interesting fire ring, with wind deflectors.

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Wow! Maybe best pizza ever…we went to the Old County Inn in Pine yesterday for lunch. It was a long wait but their wood-fired pizza was amazing.

I am having a run of bad luck with hamburger. I buy grass-fed hamburger in a shrink-wrap package, costs between $6-7 a lb. but it keeps much better than the fresh-ground stuff in the grocery store, plus it doesn’t have that Pink Slime in it that most of the grocery stores add. I bought a package when I was in Flagstaff and a few days later I noticed the package was all blown up. Damn, rotten hamburger? It still had 6 days til the Sell By date!  I reluctantly threw it out, and a couple days later I mentioned it to Pat and he said it was probably perfectly good; sealed packages like that blow up like balloons from the elevation there!!   Well CRAP!  So I bought another pound, on sale for $5.99. I have no idea how this happened but several days later I found that package laying on the floor next to my bed!!  Obviously another throw-away. Sheesh!  Maybe it rolled out of the grocery bag? Roxie had not touched it. She rarely will pick up anything off the floor, no matter how yummy it might be. Princesses do not eat floor food!

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Flagstaff

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I spent a week near Flagstaff, on a free campsite in the Coconino National Forest off A-1 Mountain Road. It was great…only one mile from I-40 and about 5 miles to town. My site happened to have a lot of junk that had been jettisoned by some homeless guy.  If you remember my “ax-murderer” friend Pat from this spring? He was camped there and said that he could get the trash hauled away if I’d bag it up. It was pretty crazy; two bales of hay under a torn tent. There were all kinds of empty cans and bottles inside the tent, outside the tent, and seemingly “hidden caches” of them in the hay! And under the tent, also hidden in the hay, were three bulging pillowcases full of clothing.  So I spent part of a day getting that all cleaned up, and Pat’s rancher friend came and hauled it away. The hay was still there, but it looked so much better without the tent and all those cans & bottles. Oh, and about 100 cigarette butts and two whiskey bottles.  Here’s the pile after I finished:

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While I was there I had two really memorable meals with Pat….he cooked a delicious slab of pork ribs on his campfire, and a couple days later we had a turkey breast cooked over the fire that came out perfect…moist and juicy; oh so good! He’s a really good guy and not an ax-murderer type at all.  (I followed him way back into the woods to a campsite this spring when he was a total stranger, and thought to myself that for all I knew, I could be following an ax-murderer!! After all, I did meet him on a Facebook group!)

Pat told me about the Goodwill Outlet in town, so I stopped there this morning. Score! They bring all the stuff  that doesn’t sell from the regular Goodwill stores here. Everything is $1.29 a pound, and it’s all jumbled-up in huge bins. You have to paw throught it to see what’s there. I got 4 good rubber-backed bath rugs, a cushy fleece throw for Roxie, and a nice down-alterrnative pillow, all for $10.17! Those little rugs fit the space in front of my bed perfectly, and since I don’t want to spend money to wash a  $2 dirty rug in a separate washer, and I sure don’t want to wash dirty rugs with my clothes,I just toss them when they get really dirty.

I really loved the site but it was not good for Roxie. The ground was super-fine silt and all her white bits turned gray; plus there were little weeds and stickers that were gumming up her coat. So yesterday I took her to the self-serve dog wash in Flagstaff and bathed her for $15 (yikes!), and we left this morning for cleaner parts.

We only went a few miles; 9 miles down Lake Mary Road to the Marshall Lake road, then 1.2 miles back. (near the Lowell Observatory). We are in another part of the Coconino National Forest. Got a nice campsite (free, of course) well back from the road, with a few pine trees for shade. I looked out a little while ago and we were surrounded by cattle! Once it got dark they started making the most godawful noises…..I wondered if one was having a baby or was mad about something!  Once they quieted down, the coyotes started up!  And the next morning the camper started shaking violently!! I knew what it was…..I looked out and sure enough, a cow was scraching her butt on the corner of my camper! Go away, Cow!  When I opened the door and yelled at her, she hightailed it out of there. I guess that’s where the word “hightailed” came from, as it really was straight up in the air! Then I felt bad for scaring her so badly.

 

 

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North Rim Grand Canyon

I can hardly believe I did this, but I didn’t go on the Durango-Silverton train trip!! Yep, I totally blew it off. I couldn’t find any free campsites anywhere near Durango so I was aiming to stay at Lower Hermosa CG about 12 miles outside of town. I went to the campground but it took a full 30 minutes to go the last 4 miles….horribly washboarded road! Since I had to be at the train station at 7:15 in the morning, I decided it would be better to stay at Haviland Lake CG which is a little farther from Durango, but it’s only one mile from the main road to town. Well when I got there, they didn’t have any non-electric sites left, so it would have cost $17 a night!! WHAAAT? I can’t pay that for a campsite!! I’d need it for two nights, plus it was going to cost $6 for parking at the train station….$40. I decided it was just too much money. So I wasted $116 on the train ticket but look, I saved $40!! Hmmm.

I headed out of town and went to Navajo National Monument. They have a free campground there that’s quite nice. It’s 10 miles from the main road and I passed a van with a big sign “BUYING PINON” parked at the side of the road. There were cars and trucks parked all over the place the whole way to the park. I guess harvesting pinon nuts is Big Business there!! I wonder how much they get for them? (I was going to stop and talk to the guy on my way out but he wasn’t there) I know pine nuts are really expensive. I was going to stay a couple days until I found out that you can’t really see any of the ruins without being able to hike a bit.  So I stayed one night and kept heading towards the North Rim Grand Canyon the next day.

There sure is a lot of boring, desolate country out there, but along the way I passed the Vermilion Cliffs….beautiful!

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Between Jacob Lake and the Grand Canyon were about 7 miles of burned woodlands, I think from the Outlet Fire of 2000. A lot of small aspens are growing up so it was kind of pretty, but so sad to see so many pines burned.

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I found a great free campsite just 10′ from the North Rim!! The scenery sure was beautiful, but it was a windy day and the gusts coming up off that rim were really powerful.  (Just past DeMotte CG, turn left onto FS611 & go 5-6 miles. Several campsites on the right. The farther you go, the closer to the rim) My view from camp:

 

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I was shocked to find that there were not very many places to view the canyon…not anythying like the South Rim that has lots of pulloffs for different views. At the North Rim, if you can’t hike, you don’t get to see very much. Here are a few views:

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Silverton, CO

Yesterday I drove to Telluride. I was very apprehensive because I loved Telluride back in the 70’s when it was a really cool hippie hangout. Then they started building condos…lots and lots of condos! I found information about a free campsite in the national forest about 12 miles from town, and I drove up this tiny forest road. The GPS coordinates took me to a big pullout in front of an old train trestle but that didn’t seem like a legal place to camp, so I kept going. I saw a few rigs just pulled off on tiny pullouts right alongside the road. Drove and drove and couldn’t find a place to turn around so finally when a tiny drive (?) came along, I backed into it to turn around. There was a big dip going across is but I didn’t worry too much; I went really slow. I did hear some scraping but got turned around and I went back to the train trestle site, which was starting to look a whole lot better. When I got out to check the trailer’s level, I noticed that I had completely torn the camper plug receptacle off the car!!  The housing is plastic and the “bolt holes” were torn through. So I “fixed” it with plastic zip ties. What the heck did we do before they were invented??!!  It’s not great but I’ll have to get to a bigger town before I can find someone to replace it, I’m sure. Probably not til I hit Flagstaff, at the end of the month.

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So I dropped the trailer, leveled it and decided I was just not in the mood to set everything up. I get tired of doing that and then packing up again the very next day, and I think this was my 4th day of doing that. So I decided to go on into town. I decided I WAS going to have a burger and fries in a restaurant! Well I have never felt so out of place in my life!  Nobody was over 40; nobody was fat; CERTAINLY no one was wearing 10 year old fake Crocs (I forgot to change shoes before I went) and no one was wearing clothes like mine……honest, everyone in that town was young, skinny and dressed in really cool sporty clothes.  It had to be bad for me to even notice something like that. All the restaurants were hopping (at 3 pm) so I just walked around a few blocks and went back to the camper feeling fat, ugly and old.

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I didn’t mind the condos this trip…they don’t really affect the downtown area. But boy, things in Telluride have sure gone upscale. Last time I was there was in the mid-80’s when the campground in the middle of town was free, and so was the skiing. And I remember I did not stay at the Youth Hostel in town because it was so expensive….$13 a night!  Hahaha! (Most other youth hostels were $6-8 a night at that time)

When I got back to the camper I STILL didn’t feel like unpacking it all for just one night, so I folded it down and drove another 3 hours to Silverton, and got here right before dark. There are a number of free places to camp but this is closest to town, a disbursed National Forest site called Kendall. It’s a very large gravel area on the Animas River. There were lots of RV’s already here, and to my shock, they were all lined up about 20’ from each other! ICK!

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TOO CLOSE TOGETHER!!

Then I noticed a little road going off to the side and found another gravel clearing with no one there! So I’m tucked in between some big pine trees, backed up to the river, all by myself, just the way I like it. I will probably stay here a whole week. I’m getting a pretty good cell signal and can get a good wifi signal in town.

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I’m about 2 miles from town and really love it here. I went to town this morning and saw two big moose about ½ mile from camp!!  They were pretty far off so I had to use both digital and analog zooms to get photos, that’s why they’re not the greatest. But hey, MOOSE!! 

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Silverton is another really cute well-preserved Victorian mining town of about 4 or 5 blocks. It’s not as snooty as Crested Butte or Telluride. The police drive Dodge Ram pickup trucks!

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I swear I AM going to have some pizza there!!!  (It’s so hard for me to spend money on restaurant food!)  I got a long-sleeve tee shirt on sale for only $18!  I asked about a restroom at the tee shirt store and she sent me over to the funnel cake store. So I used their restroom and…..I bought a funnel cake!!  YES, I spent nearly $6 on a pile of sugar-sprinkled fried dough. It was the first funnel cake I’ve ever had. I don’t buy them because they are too expensive, but I felt I had to buy something for using their restroom. It was pretty good but certainly not worth $6, and it’s way more than anyone could eat. I brought most of it home and put it in a plastic baggie; I hope it’s not one of those things that are only good the first time around.

On the way back to camp I saw that the moose were still there, and they were up and knee-deep on the pond, eating! So I got a few more poor-quality photos. (But hey, MOOSE!)

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The weather forecast for this next week is for cool temps around 60⁰ and low 40’s at night, with intermittent rain.  I felt cold last night so I got out of bed at 10:30 pm and got the heater out of the car & cranked it up. It was 39⁰ this morning and when I opened the curtains on the big side window, I realized it had been more than half-way open all night! Duhhh.

Directions to Kendall Disbursed Camping: At Silverton continue N. on Hwy. 550 about two miles. Turn left at the sign “Kendall National Forest Camping”. GPS 37.81938 -107.71307  There are several more smaller free areas on up that road for the next 2.5 miles.

 

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Oh Be Joyful!

OH BE JOYFUL

Well this is a first for me……first time I’ve ever gone to a campground just because of it’s name.  And I actually PAID to stay there, too! But who could possibly resist Oh Be Joyful Campground?!!  It’s about 5 miles from Crested Butte, CO which is an incredibly beautiful Victorian town. There are about 5 blocks of really cute shops in the historical district; lots of nice art shops, restaurants & bars. It’s very upscale though and way too expensive for me!

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The campground is up in the mountains at about 9500’  and the aspens are starting to turn color up here already!

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And every morning I awaken to the sound of elk bugling up in the hills somewhere. A lot of the sites here are for tenters but there are also some sites for campers, and you must drive through the river to get to some of the sites!  It costs $10 if you have a site with a picnic table; $5 if not. Strange rules! And then ½ price if you have the Senior Pass. I tried to find a site without a table but they were all taken (and many of them are walk-in sites). It’s a nice little campground with big pine trees. My site is right on a little stream but it’s not nice and noisy like the last place.  It is absolutely gorgeous around here! At this elevation, it’s a bit chilly at night and we even had a frost yesterday morning! I feel sorry for those people in tents.

I went exploring a little bit and could have kicked myself; only about a mile farther up the road are some nice dispersed FREE campsites! This is Open Range though and it looked like the cows had already claimed the best sites.

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I had a strange happening the first morning I was here. I was out walking Roxie at 6:45 a.m. and noticed that one of the headlights on the neighbor’s truck was on. Uh oh! I decided not to knock on their door that early, but as soon as I saw them outside I went over and told him about it. He had turned the lights off but for some strange reason, that one side stayed on! When he turned them on and back off again, it went off. But the truck wouldn’t start so I brought my car over and gave him a jump-start. We started chatting and I told them my “story” but not in a pitiful way, honest! He offered me money for my help and I refused it. Then later right before they were leaving, he came over and handed me a rolled-up bill and said “We really want you to take this…don’t worry, I can very well afford it”. So I took it and thanked him, and after he left I looked….it was a $50 bill!  Oh be joyful!!!  

Well I instantly started thinking of how to spend my windfall, and decided I really could use a long sleeve tee shirt or a sweatshirt. I went to town ready to spend but was shocked when the cheapest short-sleeve tee was $25, and the long sleeve tees and sweatshirts were from $35-70!! No way! Is this the new norm???  No wonder my clothes all come from thrift shops or Walmart. Sigh. Then I thought maybe I’d come back later and get a pizza for dinner but when I looked at the menus posted, pizza was around $20 for a small one. The standard 2 egg breakfast with bacon  was $13!!  Nope, I just cannot bring myself to spend that kind of money; even if it WAS a windfall!

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On Friday I left and planned to swing by the Gunnison post office and pick up a package that a friend sent, then go on to Telluride. But the package wasn’t there yet, so I had to find a place to stay one night near Gunnison. As beautiful as it was, I did not want to backtrack to my site that was 23 miles from town, only to come back tomorrow morning to pick up the package. I found a free place called Hartman Rocks that was only a few miles from town & had a vault toilet, water and trash receptacles! Sounds great. But I should have kept reading….the reviews talked about a really steep hill. Yup. REALLY steep hill. I got halfway up that long steep graveled hill and couldn’t go any farther! So I had to back down. How steep was it? It was so steep, even just creeping backward at a slow crawl, when I put on the brakes the car & camper would slide a ways. I managed to back it up about 150’ and around a curve, then there was a little place I could back the camper into and turn around. Phew! I found another free place near town, a bit of BLM land that has some pullouts. It’s a crappy campsite, right next to a very dusty road and with no shade at all, but it’ll be fine for just one overnight. I didn’t even unhook the car.

THANKS again for using my Amazon Associates link (www.amazon.com/?tag=litbitliv01-20) to access Amazon and order your goodies! I get a small percentage of each sale and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. It makes a huge difference in my life though! Even small purchases add to the number of items shipped, which governs what my percentage is. So even a $.99 Kindle book can have a big impact!

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Gunnison, CO

I decided I needed to look for a higher elevation campsite because of the heat. My nice shady site near Black Canyon was 90⁰ and maybe would have been fine if I could have sat outside in the shade & breeze, but the flies were voracious and had big sharp slashing teeth! So we went toward Gunnison, aiming for a campsite at Blue Mesa Reservoir (Red Peak CG) that my sources said was free, but it was actually $16 a night (half price with Sr. Pass). So I kept driving to Gunnison, and found a very nice free BLM site right on a beautiful little trout stream (I’ve seen a lot of fishermen already). It’s got some shade and I put my canopy out as well. It’s at 8800’ so should be cooler though right now my outside thermometer is reading 83 and I’m all hot and bothered from getting the camper set up. That’s still way better than the temps at the last site, and so far I haven’t seen any flies here, carnivorous or otherwise.

 

I’m a little farther from town than I had hoped….about 23 miles back to Gunnison! But I only need to go to town once a week or so. I guess from here I’ll do a day trip up to Crested Butte. There are huge sheer cliffs on both sides of camp…beautiful! But it also means that the sun doesn’t appear until about 9:30 a.m. and it sinks behind the opposite cliff wall at 7 pm. That’s OK, maybe that means it’ll stay cooler.

I’m so sad! My BonaVita coffeemaker broke this morning, and the replacement parts are Out of Stock. I had to go buy some instant cappuchino stuff….ick.

Does anyone know what these berries are? I hope they’re not something that bears love, as they are everywhere here!

Here’s the view from my side window…..NICE. I love listening to the stream.

Thanks so much for using my Amazon link when you order goodies! I get a small percentage of each purchase and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. That little bit of extra income really helps!

Directions to the Cochetopa BLM campsites: From Gunnison, go 8 miles East on Hwy. 50. Turn right onto Hwy. 114. Six campsites, all on the left side of road starting at about Mile Marker 13.5. There’s a large gravel turnaround area with vault toilet at about MM 15. Trailers up to 25′ are OK in some sites, some sites are smaller. GPS 38.355055  -106.781753

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

I’m having an At Home day today. Yesterday I went back into the park to take some sunset photos, at Sunset Point, naturally! I got there a little early and there were about 15 Mennonites taking up all th bench space, so I waited in the car. At least I think they were Mennonites; the women wore prayer caps and long muted-color plain dresses, and most of the men had long beards. I really wanted to take their picture but decided it would be rude. I guess they could have been Amish, as they all got into a big van with a driver. Do Amish go on vacations?? Anyway I dawdled around in the car a little too long and pretty much missed the sunset! I had forgotten that you can’t really go by the official sunset times in the mountains, it all depends on which side of the mountain you’re on.  Last night, the sun suddenly sank like a stone behind a mountain and since there were hardly any clouds, it was not an impressive sight. Sorry.  

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Hwy. 347, which goes from Hwy. 50 to the park, seems to be really popular with motorcyclists. I’ll bet they love going on East Portal Road, which has a 16% grade, and lots of curves. There’s supposed to be a really good view at the end but I’ve decided not to go…..I have a very clear picture in my mind of flying off the road a la Thelma and Louise!

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When I went back to the park the next day, there were more of those Amish/Mennonite people! I think a different group, as these folks were a lot younger. All the men and boys wore shirts this same color blue.  And I DID take a photo of a lady and child who had their back to me. Amish or Mennonite, anyone know?

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The other day I cut my hair. I’ve been cutting my own hair for years and so far so good……it’s often not perfect, but it hasn’t been so horrible I need to go get it professionally repaired! I always put it off as long as possible because no matter how tightly I try to fasten the towel around my neck, there’s still always little hairs that go down my shirt, and I can’t take a shower to get rid of them. I prop my little hand mirror on the rear windshield wiper and cut away. This time I forgot to pick up the mirror when I was done, and it miraculously rode all the way to town and back without falling off! Amazing. Thank goodness I had picked up my expensive dog grooming scissors and comb!

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Also….about my hair……I confess that I have not used shampoo or any kind of soap on my hair for about three months. Shampoo strips all the oil, so then after a wash, the hair thinks it has to work extra-hard to produce lots more oil to replace it. It’s a big Catch-22 kind of thing.  Shampooing uses too much water to get it rinsed, so instead, I’d been sparingly using an expensive waterless shampoo, and fretted about putting all those chemicals on my poor brain-pan. When I started using just water, my hair felt a little greasy the first week or so, but now it just feels fine….not greasy at all, and it looks the same as it always did.  I only use warm or cool clear water on it, (never hot) and once a week I really scrub my head good. In between if the bed-head is bad, I can wet it down with a few spritzes of a spray bottle.

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Here a couple photos of the other campsites just off the main big gravel area here. I’ll put the directions at the bottom of this entry. The first one could be a pull-through for a very small rig; the turning radius is pretty small. The second site is huge with space for several campers (and pull-through) but there’s a big pile of trash on the site, including two huge beanbag chairs with leaky foam pellets. I had to clean up a good bit of trash on my own site but it was small stuff; cans, bottles, cigarette cartons and butts, etc. I’d clean up that other site but there’s no way I could fit that stuff in my car! Someone else also abandoned a big maybe 15×15 canopy frame that’s all bent up. I hate that!

 

Directions: Take Highway 347 off Hwy. 50 (about 9 miles E. of Montrose, CO) towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.  Go 4.1 miles and past the second cattle guard (in the middle of the S-curve), turn left into on the gravel road (2 entrances). The park entrance is 1.7 miles farther.  GPS coordinates: 38.53294  -107.71682

 

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