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THE REALITY OF LIVING OFF GRID
#1
Living off grid is the basic goal of everyone on here. 

Well boys and girls, what you think that you want is not really what you actually need.   We all need access to food and water, sanitation, fuel, parts as well as the current must have for survival. INTERNET. Then ther is ELECTRICITY. 

How a person chooses to invest their resources and what the end goal will be is different for everyone. 

This thread is to show the reality of hitting the road, what has happened, and how the problem was resolved. 

If you have a current problem, speak up and the chances are that you will have a bunch of people that have experienced something similar come up with solutions. Threads will be spun off by the management because that is their job. Order must be kept. 

I will start out with my first road trip adventure.
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#2
Drum roll please.....
Wondering about Wandering.
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#3
The process of my build is a long and interesting story. This is not it. I had liquidated my assets to build a van. 

 I left Missouri in July of 2014. I found a deal on batteries so I spent 20% of my disability check on them. Basic bills (Insurance) and some final expenses ate up another 60% of my resources. Either I hit the road or I stay stuck there for another month. I made it to Colorado before the well hit critical. I sold a few things and made it to Pueblo. There I sat waiting for a deposit to happen. I had enough fuel to drive around town and lived on my food stockpile. I was down to ramen before i had more money. 

No safety net, or cash reserve. 

But my cat and I had a great time. Twenty days of forced down time. The next time it happened I was better prepared. A variety of food and drinks. More options on cooking. Find a Y or health club to keep clean. Parks are great, load up a kindle with books. Have electric. Also have more than one was of charging your batteries.
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#4
2004 or so, maybe 5.

I was several hours south of the border in Baja parked on a bluff over a big beach and pretty good surfbreak on its day.

I basically had no emergency fund, and I was there for 5 weeks. I knew I had enough gas to get back to San Diego , as long as I did not drive to the nearest town more than twice, for supplies.

My knowledge of batteries and DC electricity was quite poor back then. I had two mismatched parallelled marine batteries in poor condition as a house bank, and an engine starting battery.

I was using some powertools, a 5 amp jig saw and a 5.5 amp planer, building a hollow wood surfboard. My entertainment, was AM radio, and occassionally I would splurge and fire up the laptop and run its music collection through my stereo speakers. I had no LEDs lights, I did not want to fire up the engine to charge, fearful of using the much needed gas to get back to the USA.

I had a 5 watt harbor freight solar panel that I would connect to my Ciggy plug. No diode, would often forget to unplug it at night.

I was about 3.5 weeks into it when I was running low on Water. A town run was imminent. I fired up the laptop and stereo while packing up camp, and the low voltage alarm on the inverter started screaming.

I was into the music, some other departing surfers came over with the last of the some warm beer that had to be finished for the deposit on the bottles, music got turned up louder, and to stop my screaming inverter, powering my 120 watt(max) sony Vaio, I turned my battery switch to BOTH, parallelling my engine battery with my depleted house bank.

All was well. I finally got everything packed up and tied down and was by that time alone in the general area.

Jump in driver's seat, and the engine fired right up with 3 depleted batteries sharing their cranking amps. My dashboard Ammeter gauge however, rose significantly higher than I had ever seen before. I had and still have a lifetime warranty on the alternator, and this was a recently replaced remanufactured alternator replaced right before I crossed the border, and it did not like being asked to feed 3 heavily depeted batteries.

NOt sure exactly what happened, but as I watch the Ammeter needle abnormally high, I rolled down the electric windows, and this was the proverbial straw. The ammeter went to the other side of center, indicating the batteries were being discharged.

My harbor fright voltmeter indicated 11.1 volts with the engine running, 11.3 volts with it off. Shitballs.

3 basically dead batteries, no charging system, about 65 dollars cash, and in another country, and a very poor understanding of my alternator and charging system, all I really knew was it was not working.

To shorten this story, I got to the nearest town, and got all three batteries recharged to some unkown degree, and was going to try and see if I could make the ~240 miles back to the USA where I could get another alternator under warranty from Kragen autoparts.

I was 10 miles into the trip, closely watching a voltmeter and forseeing being stalled somewhere en route with 40$ in my pocket, when suddenly it started charging again.

I was getting 14.9v or 13.7v with engine running.

Since I still had 40$ left in my pocket and about a 50 mile surplus of gas to get back to SanDiego, I got 13 more gallons of drinking water, drove back to my previous parking spot set up my tarp shelter on the side of my Van and finished building the surfboard staying close to 3 more weeks.

The next weekend when more surfers arrived in camp, I came up to them with fresh barred surf perch fillets, begging for red meat, chicken, a can of Spam, anything not seafood related. I made it back to San Diego fine with some 15 dollars left.

2 to 3 years later I had 130 watts of solar, and a compressor fridge and 3 new batteries, and an MP3 player for tunes rather than a huge wasteful laptop. I had rebuilt much of my van interior and everything was with Baja in mind

That trip showed me how little I actually knew about batteries and their charging, and how lucky I got cutting everything that close, fund and knowledge wise.


When iI returned to Baja after one 14 month absence, when I did the interior rebuild with solar and a fridge, I found that crystal meth had found its way into the small fishing villages near my spot, that my Mexican friends had become addicts, thieves and liars, and my regular spot no longer felt safe amd joyful.

I saw some ugly things, was forced into the presence of dangerous, sketchy people, and after making a few promises to 'help' them the next day, I packed up camp in the dark and left.
I have not returned.

I miss that land, and the good people who reside there, and cry for the good people turned bad by an evil drug that ruined their lives, and countless others.
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#5
Great story Sternwake. Because it was real the emotion in your prose pushed through! Nicely done, I felt the anxiety of that drive!
Beast Master,JunkyMonkey,Drinks with Wolves,Fup'd Duck,Sheriff Ricochet Cockroach 4B's 1 cluster,3 TFMS Tempory Weirdo Overlord replacement 
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#6
My first RTR was in 2015. I hired a camp mechanic to change my steering box in my 1991 Dodge Ram van. I took the part back and cleaned up the splines. It was not designed to be hammered on. After installing it  myself, I went to Blythe CA for an alignment. The first please tried to charge double saying It was a Rv.  I checked all the fluids, and added radiator fluid. Then went to another shop. 



 picked up the van, and made it 1/2 mile before the white smoke started coming out of the exhaust pipes. There was water in the right side of the head. I had heard rumors about Ehrenberg, so I had the van towed there. I was on State land, but within walking distance from the laundromat. 

Then I took the motor apart with hand tools. I was lucky, as the motor was a 1969 318. Lots of cheap parts. The folks at RTR donated $60 to help. After getting the head cleaned and magnafluxed, it was determined that only the head gasket needed replacing I called my rich brother to borrow $40 and was turned down. I had just spent two months packing his workshop for free. Family  Dodgy

Then the Sheriff shows up. BLM land started 1/4 mile away.  Sad  I was trespassing.  He walked around my van, and saw that everything was neat and clean. My motor parts were stacked and covered.  My cat was giving him the stink eye. I asked if I could get another week as I was waiting on funds. The only reason he was out there was a complaint about the panhandling people stockpileing a huge pile of junk. I was obviously not one of them so he said he would check on me in another week. 

Two days later it was together well enough to limp into camp in Ehrenberg. I spent the next week straightening out the vacuum lines and getting ready to install my solar. I was still running on vehicle charging for the batteries.
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#7
Living off the grid stories.

Ok, so I am being forced to retire, well kind of. My PTSD is pretty bad and I am not too much fun to be around unless some sort of action/drama is happening. Brass is pushing me to retire but I am far too connected and popular to push too hard. I decide it is better for me to pull the pin and retire and practice a little me and Zen and the Art of Nothing.

3 months of living in a cave with a folding solar panel to charge my phone, a kindle, and a laptop. Fish the pond in the morning, collect bullrushes for mashed potatoes and spend the afternoon in the sun typing a story or reading Non-Fiction. I can't read fiction when I am writing as I find myself stealing. I had packed in a seventy-pound pack with med supplies, dehydrated fruits and veggies, clothes, sleeping bags, and various incidentals. Spices, toiletries, a sat phone, two cell phones, and my little Mac computer and some other crap. My aim was 40 days of meditation and reflection. Enough to get into a habit and decompress.

The location was well known to me and three other hiking buddies. It will remain that way. About 300 miles of forestry roads and twenty miles of bush trails to get to the cave, as it has been named. The really nice thing about the cave is it comes with internal plumbing. Cut from Hardrock the opening is four feet in circumference. After about ten feet of egress, it opens up to the first room which is about 20 by 40 feet. The next room is achieved via a crack in the rear face of the first cave and contains a creek and a cauldron. Water flows out of the rear wall of this room and then out the side of the far wall. The water in the creek runs very quickly and any solid waste just disappears downstream. The cauldron is fed by an underground hot spring and the water fluctuates from a bathtub to hot tub temperatures. It is about 10 feet in circumference and limestone white on the sides and bottom. This room is usually always warm even in the winter. The main room has a secondary tunnel exit at the back of the wall opposite the crack. Some probing was done into this location a number of years ago. The person nomivolentold got into the tunnel about fifty feet until some screaming was heard and roped explorer was yanked out of the hole with a story about a large white spider. No one believed the spider tale told yet, none of the three has mustered the courage to explore further. The 'white spider den' hole was secured with mesh on the next visit. It remains secured to this day. The remainder of the cave has also been meshed with screens and nets over the years to discouraged mozies and other fictitious creatures from an entrance to the human part of the dwelling.

A number of years ago a wood plank floor was added and various sleeping bags, wool blankets, and unused things with insulating properties were stuffed below the floor. Five years before my trek and forced seclusion twenty gallons of expanding two-part foam and catalyst was humped up to the location. The various stuff had started to smell as it insulated less and rotted more. Plastic was laid down and nailed to the old floor. Some pink styrofoam style sheets arrived and these got installed around the door and three rolls of house wrap got added to the floor and as far up the walls as the supplies allowed. Then the twenty gallons got poured on the flat floor and catalyst was added. We evacuated quickly as the exothermic reaction happened. That warm summer evening was spent outside.

Two solar panels arrived with two d6 used tractor batteries of unknown origin. The panels were larger old house panels and were run in series and mounted on the mountain face. An MPPT charger of Chinese origin was attached to the paralleled D6 batteries and ropes of colourful led lights made their way onto the ceiling and walls via a common dimmer and on/off switch. The ability to change the colour was lost in this series mish mash insulation. The floor was reasonably levelled by the foam and the white spider kingdom was sealed forever. A series of posts were added down into the foam and a new checkered flag style vinyl floor attached to tightly spaced marine 2x4's. Stairs up from the entrance was added and a boot/mud room appeared a few years later. Stairs to the spa were added the following year and the spa room got an old 12-volt squirrel cage blower at the top of the crack. This proved to be too much for the old tractor batteries and these were replaced with sealed AGM D4's. An on-demand pump got added with the batteries and a white American style urinal and sink got placed in the far corner with a return line to the creek.

I brought some additional gear and prep supplies for the metal locked cabinet. The med supplies and the majority of the pack would remain at the cave as was the tradition.  In heavy out lite.

Forty days of fishing and scavenging turned into sixty and sixty became ninety overnight. I had cell reception most of the time and could use my computer with a 3g signal. The sat would forever remain in the cave. Cooking takes place around the side near the lake. Care is taken to keep the entrance covered and out of prying eyes. A trapper series tent near the cooking location has never seen a person sleep in it. It is old and leaks but the facade has been effective when someone happens by.

With water/sanitation and long soaks it is amazing how living off the grid and away from the noise can refresh ones soul.

Then one day I got an offer to fly to Russia to drive the long way overland across Siberia.

I said ok, made my pick up call, and started packing.

     
Beast Master,JunkyMonkey,Drinks with Wolves,Fup'd Duck,Sheriff Ricochet Cockroach 4B's 1 cluster,3 TFMS Tempory Weirdo Overlord replacement 
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#8
If I saw a spider that looks like that I wouldn’t go in at all. I’m not afraid of spiders either!

When is the last time you returned to the cave?
monkeyfoot
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#9
I haven't been back since I went to Russia several years ago. I heard all is well and we have two new, to the cave, Ikea chairs. Flat pack is essential for humping 20 miles in the bush. One of the three got recently married and asked permission to bring new spouse to the cave for a romantic retreat. This was denied. Spouses can attend the cave only in the event of a SHTF or zombie apocalypse.

Rules are rules.
Beast Master,JunkyMonkey,Drinks with Wolves,Fup'd Duck,Sheriff Ricochet Cockroach 4B's 1 cluster,3 TFMS Tempory Weirdo Overlord replacement 
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#10
That was me that wandered by the trappers tent, and it didn't fool me but I acted like it did.

BTW the left-over buffalo jerky was pretty good.

Cool
Wondering about Wandering.
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