Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 12 (1 year of tracking)

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

Well, we now have 12 complete months of energy usage under our belts after making our energy upgrade improvements. We’ll take a look at:

  • Our original goals for improvement
  • The results vs. the goals
  • Some potential future savings
  • A great tool for measuring kWh usage of a single device

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Mourning the Death of a Good Friend

It happened. My faithful dedicated backpacking watch, my Timex Expedition Resin Combo died. I wrote about this watch a few years ago in this backpacking watch dissertation that provided a lot of mostly useless information that for some reason does interest people seeing more than 2,000 people have bothered to read it.

This watch was a little over 6 years old. It lived a good life and is survived by a 70’s military watch and an original 80’s Swiss Army watch. No services will be held and it will be interned at the Riverside County landfill on Edom Hill.


No autopsy was performed. It is an inexpensive timepiece and when a new battery failed to revive the heartbeat of its digital/analog innards, no one was interested in repairing or bringing it back to life – the victim of a throwaway item in a throwaway society.

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Wilderness For Sale

I hope the title of this post is catchy and might generate a bit of traffic to read it. My blog is mostly written for my kids and a handful of friends, as I have stated numerous times. I am under no illusion that I have any influence in the world of backpackers or adventurers and recognize the readership of this website is small. My hope is that I can inspire a handful of people to think about wilderness and our proper place in it, who in turn can encourage others to approach wilderness in an ethical manner. Perhaps we can create a renewed focus on Wilderness Ethics.

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How to get a Good Night’s Sleep in the Backcountry (and everywhere else)

It isn’t unusual for people to experience difficulty getting a good night’s sleep in the backcountry. This affliction impacts backpackers, car campers, RV and travel trailer enthusiasts. Often when seeking advice for solutions, those trying to help usually focus on gear.



My first inclination, when asked my opinion, is to answer with, “Lie down, close your eyes, and go to sleep.” This is what I do nearly every night.

However, it really isn’t this simple.


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Is “stink” from sweating while backpacking bad?

A common complaint and an ever-ending search for many backpackers is the elusive clothing that will minimize body odor.



For many species body odor is an evolutionary survival mechanism, and many scientists believe this is also true for humans. Unlike my dog, who pants to stay cool in warm weather, humans sweat to keep cool by evaporation. Sweating produces more body odor than sitting at rest in a temperature of, let’s say, 78F.

Should you join the search for clothing that minimizes body odor? Should you constantly purchase the latest and greatest piece of clothing that miraculously won’t stink after a week in the backcountry, or would your time spent for the Great Search be better spent on more productive ventures, not to mention the money saved by using what you already own?

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Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 10

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

I’m going to something a little different this month. June was hot. Hotter than a normal June, so before I post the YTD analysis, I am going to share a graph with our daily electricity use versus the high temperature each day. Keep in mind that weekends are going to be higher than weekdays, because we are home, usually inside, spending time together versus the weekdays when I am outside working and Joyce is at work. Quite a while ago, before our upgrade, Southern California Edison installed a wireless electric meter that sends information to Edison. The great thing about this set-up is Edison can now compile data for the homeowner to help analyst usage, which is where I got the data for the chart.

Bottom line for June is electrical use was down 56.2% against the 5 year average, and natural gas use was down 48.4% and I am thrilled with both!

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The Retirement Time Bank

What if you spent your recreation time the same way your grandmother saved money?


There was a time when many people saved and budgeted money with glass jars. Maybe your grandmother or your great grandmother did this when she was a young parent trying to make ends meet. Jars were set aside, and in each jar she would save some money for future needs. Perhaps a jar for school clothes, another for Christmas presents, one for vacation and so on. Each week or month after the necessities of life were paid for, a bit of money was placed into the appropriate jar to save for the future.

Let’s say you did something similar with your free time. For every day off from work, you put time-dollars into a jar the represented how you spent your free time. You might have a Recreation Jar (camping and backpacking for me), a TV Jar, a Household Jar, a Party Jar, or even a Saloon Jar. For each day off from work, you have 24 time-dollars to put in a jar. If you went backpacking or camping for two days, you would but 48 time-dollars into your recreation jar because you even spent your time sleeping in the outdoors.

What would your jars look like at the end of the year, or at the end of your working days just before you retire? Would your TV Jar be overflowing and your Recreation Jar just ¼ full or less?

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Trailer Tongue Weight Voodoo

Almost three years ago I wrote a 3-part series titled, How Much Trailer Can You Tow? 

You can read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 contains the information on Weight Distribution Hitches (WDH)

I have received many inquiries from trailer owners about Weight Distribution Hitches and there is a lot of confusion out there in trailer land. I have always advocated weighing your tow vehicle and trailer periodically to ensure everything is within specifications, and herein lays the confusion. People try to interpret the scale readings and assume a WDH will subtract weight from the tow vehicle’s rear axle and add it to the front axle; that is: the front axle of the tow vehicle will weigh more with the trailer hitched. We do not want this to happen. After completing my yearly maintenance on Monday, I loaded everything up, to include full water tanks and temporarily filled the refrigerator and headed over to the local CAT scale. I’ll use those measurements to hopefully explain how to weigh your set up, what weights you should be looking at, and how to interpret them.

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