Category Archives: General Talk now has ads :(

Yeah, I know…

Here’s the deal. I built this site over 4 years ago mainly to let my kids and a few friends know what I was up to. This eliminated the need for phone calls, emails, and texts. Over time the site grew. Part is my fault because on the two Internet forums I visit I would sometimes just link to a post here instead of typing in a lengthy response. However, 80% of the traffic comes from search engines like Google. To date there have been over 1.5 million page views.

Now I am retired and on a fixed income. I have enough to live well enough, but this site costs money to maintain. Yearly fees for a domain, service hosting fees, and some licenses to make the software work properly especially on mobile devices. I am hoping I can generate around $20 per month to cover the operation of the site.

But I want to be completely honest about the ads and tell you how they work.

Continue reading now has ads 🙁

VIAIR 88P Portable Air Compressor

It’s surprising that most people don’t carry a portable air compressor in their vehicle. Especially these days when gas stations no longer have free air and the pay for air stations that replaced it usually don’t work. I always carry a portable air compressor due to Murphy’s Law: when some can go wrong, it will. Especially when you are towing a trailer miles and miles away from cell phone coverage.

In the past the air compressors that lie in wait in the back of the SUV have been inexpensive mostly plastic affairs. They work for a year or two then die. When our 2006 Niagara tent trailer was vandalized and totaled by our insurance company, I had placed the air compressor in the trailer during the tire debacle. It was stolen too.

picture from the VIAIR website
.       picture from the VIAIR website

When we bought our new Milan in 2013, I decided to get the highest quality air compressor for the most reasonable price, which means Amazon is my best friend. When towing the trailer there would now be 8 tires to maintain. The VIAIR 88P had nearly 1,000 reviews on Amazon with a score of 4.6 out 5. It has been used for three years and this June I really put it through a hard test. It passed with flying colors.



Continue reading VIAIR 88P Portable Air Compressor

Camping in 114F Temps and No Air Conditioner (sort of)

I have camped in the desert during summer without air conditioning many times. In our local deserts, temperatures do occasionally hit 120F and once in a while even higher. See this post where I re-packed our wheel bearings in 123F temperature. The rare occasions we patronize a campground with electrical hook-ups is usually when we take our inflatable boat to the lower Colorado River in the middle of summer.

Old Age is Creeping In.

Staying cool in the hot desert during the day is simple: just stay in the shade. But as I get older, it is getting more difficult for me to sleep when the nighttime temperatures are 90F or higher. This June we spent a couple of weeks at Lake Mead and most days were above 110F and a couple hit 114F. Anticipating this, and not willing to stay in a parking lot campground with hook-ups away from the lake and in civilization, I came up with an idea – a portable evaporative cooler (aka swamp cooler).

Now, I could buy a generator, which is expensive and more importantly noisy. So that was out based on principle and philosophy. Being familiar with evaporative coolers, I first needed to do some simple math.

Continue reading Camping in 114F Temps and No Air Conditioner (sort of)

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

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

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.

Continue reading Wilderness For Sale

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!

Continue reading Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 10

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?

Continue reading The Retirement Time Bank

BS Gear Reviews


If you read my blog much, you know I mostly have disdain for gear reviews, and I discussed in this post a few years ago, The Business of BackpackingGear reviews, for the most part, are simply opinions. And “opinions are like assholes — everyone has one.”

If you are researching gear, you need to determine the author’s credibility, other than what he or she tells youMy classic example is the stove review, where the author has placed the stove on a bed of flammable dry leaves, which is not something an expert would do.

So today I was looking into a pair of strap sandals. Similar to flip flops, strap sandals are simply a sole held in place with straps; only more secure and eliminated the go-ahead syndrome inherent in flip flops. One reviewer, who supposedly uses sandals a lot posted pictures of his pasty white feet wearing several brands of sandals. I call BS. If you wear sandals or flip flops a lot, as I do, in the outdoors you will develop a tan with contrasting tan marks where the straps cross the feet. Something like this:

flip flops 6


So I call the sandal review total BS, and must disregard the author’s purported credibility, expertise, and opinions.