What We Found In Our RV Air Conditioner

More heat wave fallout

I usually write in this blog sporadically but the past few days of record breaking temperatures have been memorable.

Our RV is a heat magnet, being poorly insulated and ultimately not meant to be lived in long-term. Although we insulate and skirt it during the winter, for some reason, we pull it all down in the spring.

Not this year.

As a result of the climbing temperatures, all of the insulation came back out of the shed today and ended up in places we’ve never put it before.

The front of the fifth-wheel is now draped in tarps for awnings and as of this morning, the front walls, or broadside where our entrance is located is newly plastered with tacked-up odd shapes of foam insulation. The walls resemble a cracked hard boiled egg but I don’t care.

My priority is to survive, no matter how that looks.

We’ve been trying since yesterday to troubleshoot our air conditioning unit. It would run fine for awhile plugged into our heavy-duty generator, then turn off.

The unit was installed in 1994 so there could be a lot of things wrong with it. After making the generator more comfortable in the heat by cutting a larger ventilation hole in it’s shed and adding oil, it ran out of gas.

That wasn’t the only problem though.

I noticed the kitchen light fixture was filled with brownish water. It needed washing anyway so I cleaned it and hung it back up. That was yesterday. This morning it was filled with the same brownish liquid again.

Putting two and two together, we came to the conclusion it must be from the A/C unit; condensation most likely. I browsed the internet looking for a clue and discovered the drain pan was most likely clogged, causing it to overflow rather than be directed off the outside of the RV.

I told my husband and was surprised to hear footsteps on the roof a few minutes later. I went outside to see my him crouched over the A/C, asking for a screwdriver. I threw one up and he took the cover off.

I went back inside then heard scrambling. I darted out the door to see him practically sliding down the ladder. He pointed to the skeleton of the air conditioner.

It was occupied.

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Several wasps nests clung menacingly to the structure. My husband was lucky to have escaped without a sting. Any further maintenance would have to wait until we took care of the nests, leaving us to look forward to another day of 100° + heat.

main hive

While he got the ladder and sprayed the nests from a distance, I dragged The Trough closer to the RV and began to fill it again. Later, I put about twenty feet of PVC tubing together to form a long arm, climbed up the ladder, and knocked the nests down.

shroud and nests

Tomorrow morning, my husband will go up again to look for the drain pan and clear any clogs – if there’s a drain pan. Regardless, I figure anything we do is an investment into a more comfortable existence in the months ahead.

Once this heat wave is over with, 90° weather is going to seem like Spring.

Heat Wave 3

The battle for A/C

It was 115° in the shade at 3:00p.m. today.

It doesn’t look like it in the picture, but it really says 115°. At 7:40p.m., we’re at 95° and it feels heavenly.

Today, being soaking wet wasn’t working any more. I no longer have my pool to dip in. I overturned The Trough because I added too much bleach, and the cooling effect of cold showers lasts maybe fifteen minutes.

I’d finally had it with the heat by 3:30p.m.

I strongly suggested to my husband  that we head down to the hardware store to put a couple of super heavy duty 10 gauge 15 amp extension cords on the credit card so we could cool off.

Forty-five minutes and two-hundred dollars later, we were back home untangling the anacondas and setting up for some air conditioning. Now the Generac 5500XL would be put to the test.

Our son lives in a smaller trailer about seventy-five feet in the other direction from the generator and his A/C unit is smaller so we started with him. So far, so good.

Now us.

I researched the watts and btu’s and all of that stuff ahead of time so theoretically we could comfortably run two units on the generator. We plugged in and turned our  A/C on low for a bit, then medium.

Ten minutes later, the generator override kicked in and shut it off. We cut a larger hole for the exhaust in the back of the shed but had a repeat. Shit. Looks like we can run it but only on low and only when we can reset it. That’ll be better than nothing.

We did the egg experiment again today but this time with a cast-iron skillet at the suggestion of another blogger. Why not try to have some fun with this? So far, no success.

egg in cast iron skillet

We also wrestled with the solar power system again.

Ironically, the heat was so bad, the batteries overheated again, even with the shed doors open and in the shade.

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Solar power my ass. 🙂 We cranked up our smallest generator to keep our power on while our son enjoyed his air conditioning.

Me? I crawled into a cool hole until the sun set.

The second spring needed to be deepened anyway.

Heat Wave 2

Cooking with Linda

I just checked the thermometer again. Two steps outside barefoot with two seconds to take a peek and my feet are singed.

It’s getting hotter earlier in the day. At 2:00p.m. it’s 108° in the shade.

Last night I decided to dredge one of our two springs and take more rock out of the bottom because of the threat of drought. I can only do this in the evening or early morning to avoid the sun. If at the end of the day, I have to coat myself in mosquito repellent to avoid being eaten alive. It’s always something around here.

I use what’s called a Santa Fe bar to do some of the work. It’s a six-foot rod made of solid steel for breaking rock. Don’t leave it in the sun then grab it with your bare hands (or anything else made of metal). You’ll regret it.

This morning I beat both the heat and the legion of yellow-jackets and wasps that share the watering hole with us by starting at 6:00a.m. By 8:00a.m., the place was getting too popular for my comfort so I wrapped things up until this evening.

Even earlier, I hung another tarp awning over our RV door because the knob has been getting too hot to touch. I don’t know what we were thinking when we originally positioned the trailer broadside to the sun.

We’ve added a cold shower with clothes on to our cooling repertoire and I now sport a wet T-shirt wrapped around my head.

Today’s shopping trip included some powdered Gatorade. Not usually a preferred drink but we live in different times lately.

We cracked an egg on a rock outside to test the “it’s so hot you can fry and egg on a sidewalk” expression but we don’t have sidewalks here. We have rocks though. We had trouble leveling the one we picked and the egg became partially scrambled during the cracking process. There it sits till later.

Speaking of rocks, a fault line passes directly under the northeast corner of our fifth-wheel (where I sleep), according to the Washington State Department Of Natural Resources geological map. The thought of lava somewhere below us in the depths of the earth makes me cringe and question once again, the placement of our RV.

Looking at a photo of two people hugging makes me feel uncomfortable. Now we practice heat wave distancing. As for dinner: who in their right mind would turn a burner on right now? Salad, Gatorade, and ice cubes sounds good.

The solar inverter started beeping again when it shouldn’t have and I suspected overheating. I remembered the large pieces of foam insulation stored away and grabbed a couple with reflective foil on one side. We stacked them on top of the battery and charge controller shack and drew them out over the front to act as shade.

Upon opening the doors, the charge controllers indicated the batteries were indeed, over heating but once the “breeze” began to circulate throughout the shed, all of the battery status lights changed to green, telling us everything was good to go. We left the doors open with the components now in the shade. Lesson learned.

It’s so hot outside the foam insulation we put around our security camera cords is melting. The cords themselves are fine.

melting foam tube

The ants are going crazy looking for water and have attempted another invasion. They seem to be moving around frantically and I feel bad for them. Even insects need water – but not from my kitchen.

This time around, I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and stuffed it in the hole where they were coming in. It seems to be working and I’m wondering if I’ve discovered a more effective strategy than my old battle plan: Ant Invasion – A Poem

I wonder if putting a dish of water outside and away from the trailer will draw them away? I think I’ll try an experiment.

I take back what I said about the west coast: they’re every bit as hot as us. I hope this isn’t a trend.

Oregon is down to two fires now. Everything is like tinder. Crossing my fingers for eastern Washington this summer.

Three-and-a-half hours to today’s high and counting. I’m going to look at the thermometer and egg again but this time I’m wearing my shoes.

It’s 2:40p.m. and it’s 109°.

The egg is not cooking.

Heat Wave

How we manage not to melt

I’m sitting in a dark place, sopping wet – on purpose: because of a heat wave.

We are in the midst of a week-long, possibly historical weather event with an excessive heat advisory across Washington state. Over the mountains to the west, it’s slightly better but still hot.

Looking at a heat index map, we are smack-dab in the middle of a region marked by a deep red color – the darkest and hottest – according to the legend.

The thermometer inside is pegged past 90° and the one outside reads 105° in the shade.

Leave butter out for any length of time and it’s broken down into its various liquid components. Cheese sweats profusely. Hell, I think my clock is doing the same, Salvador Dali-style; or it’s that hit of acid I took when I was sixteen finally coming back to haunt me.

We’ve closed all of the windows and hung tarps as a canopy in front of the fifth-wheel to see if we can cut a few degrees from the highs. The tarps make us look classy.

tarps on rv

The solar power system is loving this. We are running an electric energy hog of a refrigerator (long story), and everything else on it. The inverter alarm was constantly going off but we discovered that four of our panels were off-line and  fixed the problem.

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The cats only come out at night. I don’t know where they go during the day. They simply “appear” at about 6:30p.m. or so, after the temperature gauge is well into its journey back down the scale.

Since we can’t disappear during the day like them, our main defense is water, or keeping wet.

Here are a few ways we do that:

  • The livestock trough: what I bought last year after my first swimming pool debacle The Pool. It’s a big tub meant for watering animals but it works just fine as a dunking pool. I’m using the now-defunct swimming pool filter/pump and bleach to keep the water from turning green.
  • The sprinkler: hold the hose up and make it rain on yourself.
  • The garden mister: a larger version of the spray bottle.
  • Lakes or rivers: there are  plenty around here; just get there early and plan on scaling a nearly vertical slope in places to get to the water.

lake panorama

Another option is our Generac 5500XL generator. It could easily power an RV air conditioner but we need to wait until the first of next month to pick up heavier duty cords – when the worst of this has already passed.

But we’re in for a lot more according to longer-term forecasts.

In addition to the current heat wave, a drought is forecast for this summer and we’re ready to dig the spring deeper if it gets low.

Wildfires are a danger in weather like this. Oregon currently has three active ones. They got torched along with California last year. I finally bought personal property insurance after several local fires came a little too close. We need to finish trimming the lower branches of our trees as a fire deterrent.

It’s 3:00 p.m. – still three hours of rising temperatures until the red on the thermometer begins to slowly fall for the day. It doesn’t fall enough. Sleep is difficult. The temperature has risen two degrees since I began writing.

We in the Pacific Northwest aren’t the only ones cooking. I was originally indoctrinated to be skeptical of global warming but what I’m seeing year after year with my own eyes and what I’m gathering from credible sources has lead me to have a more open mind on the subject.

My latest thoughts are that we, as humans, need to get our shit together soon.

sun fire

The Totem

You may have heard of The Long Long Long Driveway.

It’s the almost mile-long unpaved easement we share with our neighbors to get to our landlocked properties. The stretch of gravel and dirt resembles a stream bed in places and a mud-bogging race track in others, depending on the season.

The legal agreement says it’s for “ingress and egress” only, but it’s become oh-so-much more – including a nifty place to display one’s trophies for all to see; in this case, the head of a freshly slaughtered bull.

Our newest neighbors have placed this lovely item on top of a fence post right next to the shared entrance to our property. I’ve put the photo at the end of this post, far far down so those who don’t want to see it don’t have to.

Who does this and why? Is this what farmers do after a slaughter or could it be  because someone is pissed because I yelled at them about the snowmobiles and they want to send us a message?

There’s a history with the snowmobiles.

Shortly after we moved in, one family took it upon themselves to ride their mobiles all over the property that surrounded and spanned the driveway, tearing it and the road up pretty badly.

When I confronted them, the matriarch of the clan claimed they’d just bought the lot. I found out differently the next day and the not-very-happy realtor sent someone up to straighten things out. Turns out they’d made an offer then weren’t able to “perform” or fulfill their end of the deal. It wasn’t their property.

The next year, after another of their family members bought one of the remaining lots, they resumed their riding only this time, in large circles around the surrounding properties, essentially turning the barely snow covered road into a racetrack.

Out went a letter from our attorney and all was quiet until a couple of months ago, when there they went again. We gathered evidence via surveillance cameras just in case, and I finally yelled at the top of my lungs for them to stay the hell off of the easement as they drove by.

They had a pow wow about it after driving the machines up onto someone else’s private property and rallied for one last stand or drive. I could hear every word they said as they plotted from their secret place atop the hill. I had to resist the urge to yell out “I can hear you” from the darkness. I believe there may be some discontent.

By the way, one of them stole a UPS package from us a couple of months ago. We have good reason to be out there standing our ground. It’s a shame but we have not picked the fights.

Back to the bull. Is this a thing in rural America; the displaying of your leftovers from the slaughter? What’s gonna happen when it warms up? Is this thing going to sit atop it’s post and rot into the summer?

Will we break down and leave a note in their mailbox or go up to their door and tell them to please put it away with the rest of the Halloween decorations until next year? Does anyone know this to be a custom of farmers and won’t it attract predators?

I love Halloween, but please.

Photo way below – off screen. 🙂

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cow

Bugsville

Moving to the country means more rocks, bushes, trees and dirt for insects to occupy. Every single teeny, weeny, nook and cranny is a potential home to these critters and we are at full capacity.

If you pick up a rock and you’ll find a microcosm of bug life from funnel spiders who weave cloth-like sheets of webs with hiding holes, to ants – one colony per rock, to the occasional baby cricket or centipede.

Grasshoppers make great play toys for the cats. Stinkbugs flock to the interiors of our vehicles or occasionally find themselves stranded in the bathtub. Do not disturb or they will live up to their names – stink. They are called Pinebugs because they smell like pine trees.

Strange unidentifiable creatures occasionally creep along or fly across our paths along with some of the biggest bees we’ve ever seen.

I found a couple of dung beetles one summer, riding/pushing a piece of – well – dung through what would have been to them, a jungle. Where to? Only they knew, although my son mentioned something about navigating by sun. One seemed to be doing all of the work while the other rode in – uh – luxury on the poop ball.

You’ll be mistaken for the premier of some kind of bug attraction if you wear a head lamp. They’ll flock to you. A face mask will keep them out. I’m sure you have one of those sitting around.

Never open a can of tuna fish with a window or door open; the yellow jackets love the smell and will do anything to get at it. Think The Hills Have Eyes as you look nervously out of your window – waiting for the next wave.

The fifty flies that have been waiting outside will ride the air vacuum in if you open your door – and head straight for the head.

Black ants regularly find their way to our kitchen. I wrote a poem about them here: Ant Invasion – A Poem. Borax mixed in with sugar is the antidote.

At night in the summer you’ll hear the chirping of crickets (a sound I’ve always loved) and sometimes you can hear hornets or yellow jackets scraping the surfaces of wood, harvesting material for their paper nests.

For the most part, we’ve gotten used to living with this disposable-like population but every once in a while, one makes itself known, like yesterday, when a pinebug landed smack dab in the middle of my glasses.

Soon enough they’ll be gone for the winter. They will disappear or fly to Florida. I can just see V’s of pinebugs heading south for warmer climes. 🙂

Culture, Charred Steak, and Gold

We are on another prospecting expedition and I’m sitting by a campfire smelling steak burning just right as the sun nears the top of the treeline to the west. It seems as if I feel less heat already in early August. Pink Floyd’s The Wall is playing – probably for the one-billionth time since the album was created. 🙂

There is laughter and talk of entrepreneurial ventures after the virus recedes – hopefully for good until the next Something comes along. I’ve just had a bite of the best Filet Mignon of my life.

Pieces of gold are being compared.  I feel content at this moment. America – the world – mankind is going to be OK. As we sit around the fire, we share stories about the prospecting culture and the local woodcutters among other things. Bits of information are passed back and forth such as that salmon berries are known by some as Smooshberries – because they are smooshie, of course. 

Local lifestyles make for great tales. The woodcutters are stuff of legend around these parts. They know how to harvest a truck load of wood from the mountains in the dead of winter (I’m from “civilization” so everything is larger than life compared to what I’m used to).

We’re out prospecting with some people we’ve just met and they are very cool. They own a computer store and the husband has a YouTube channel having to do with drones. They want to open a restaurant. I’m sold after the steak.

Earlier in the evening, the husband threw a fishing line in the river and snagged a couple of trout for dinner. I’m rusty and asked for some pointers then proceeded to snag my hook in the nearest bush then break the line. I briefly considered shooting a trout with my slingshot before grabbing a hotdog.

Our other friend’s pooch has taken up residence at my side as I give him a good scratching. His owner is dabbling with constructing campers of a different type for a specific purpose. I don’t want to disclose his ideas without permission so I’ll let that lie for now.

We all have gold in common. It’s fascinating, elusive, and worth almost two grand an ounce right now.

I’ve been focusing on metal detecting for gold ore with some success and we plan to try to track down the source. It’s exciting. I’m sending in a pound of the material for a gold and silver assay which will tell me if, and how much of the minerals are in there.

The evening is mild, the mosquitoes few, the food excellent and the trading of stories and dreams the best. Tonight, the ties that bind are exquisitely charred food, a campfire, stories of people and their dreams – and gold.

Another trip is coming soon. We only have so much time before the legendary winter sets in. Then the gold of the mountains and creeks will be locked up for the season in ice and snow.

the grimmer roci

A Little Cabin In The Woods

Had someone been squatting on a neighbor’s land?

We’ve been looking at land for a few months and we often check Google Earth for a closer look from a couple of miles above the earth. There are two parcels for sale adjacent to us and up the hill towards the mountains that we’ve been interested in.

I noticed what looked like a shack on the property in the latest satellite imagery and rolled back the timeline a couple of decades. Someone had built whatever it was after 1998 and it had a roof as late as 2016 – the last captured image date.

Was the object a shelter with someone living in it? I got permission to walk the property for a closer look and I told the real estate agent I’d check for a possible squatter.

I use the My Tracks app when I go for hikes to keep my bearings so I started to record my movement as I crossed the property line and continued up toward the mysterious – whatever it was.

I climbed up the steep hill and through some almost impenetrable thickets toward the structure until the app told me it was almost directly in front of me. I peered through the brush – and there it was.

A cabin!

I wasn’t expecting to see such a well-made and picturesque abode. It was minus a roof and a chimney but someone had taken the time to craft this little building and had been living in it.

Anticipating the possibility of surprising someone, I made my approach noisy – like I was out hiking but it became immediately apparent the tiny house had been abandoned for some time.

No squatters.

Debris from the once-household lay strewn about outside, including parts of the fireplace and chimney but I wanted to see inside first. I called my husband and told him I’d found the place as I crept through the doorway and into the little space.

Bright sunlight shone directly into the interior and onto the still-sturdy planks. Various kitchen items lay scattered about, left behind by the former occupants, but most were gone.

The stovepipe remained attached to the wall while the rest lay in a heap with some other rubbish near the shell. I looked out a window in the rear to see what “they” saw when they looked out. I imagined seeing snow or maybe wolves prowling too close on a dark night.

They’d left behind a wooden wind chime and a couple of fish shaped dishes they’d used as ashtrays; a match and some ashes were still in them. I put the little trays in my pocket; no one was coming back for them.

I picked my way to the back of the shelter and found an animal cage. For a second I considered whether it might have been used for a human (my vivid imagination). A couple of saws, a cup and an empty toolbox sat on top, forgotten and rusty.

My curiosity satisfied and my mission complete, I stood and looked out at the view the mystery people would have enjoyed. It was spectacular but how did they get up here? There were no roads nearby. They must have cut the logs for the cabin on the spot.

I used my navigating app to find my way back down the hill to “safety” – across our property line. I breathed a sigh of relief although I had really enjoyed the afternoon’s adventure.

I don’t know if we’ll buy the two parcels next to us but someone had built a house with their own skills and a few tools and lived there for some time.

I wonder who they were?

Memorable Moments

Times we won’t forget since we moved.

Here is a list of some memorable moments we’ve had since we left “civilization” over two years ago:

  • Finding a man asleep in the back of his pickup truck minutes after a bear ransacked his belongings at his open tailgate – inches from his feet.
  • Driving with a twenty-five foot trailer behind me for the first time and coming to a halt at a bridge we weren’t sure was wide enough for us.
  • Shaking a skunk out of a cage at 2:30 in the morning.
  • bear screen shot filtered
    A passerby.

  • Watching the solar eclipse on the beach of a river at a campground.
  • Coming home from work to the first snow we’d seen in years. Three feet of it.
  • Hitting the ground after a bullet ricocheted off a tree near us and yelling “there are people down here” when our neighbors almost shot us.
  • My husband walking out the door to our RV to see a bear about thirty feet away.
  • Finding a skunk in my kitchen in the middle of the night.
  • The night our cat jumped onto the canvass of our camper-trailer, collapsing it onto my head and my half-asleep husband mumbling “are you sure that’s the cat”?
  • Bambi
  • The night we packed our trailer to leave for our new home in eastern Washington in a monsoon then having the lights on the truck go out on the freeway.
  • Getting a flat tire while pulling our trailer out of the woods and living in it for two days on the outskirts of a residential area while we had the tires replaced.
  • Letting an extremely aggressive wildcat we’d caught out of a cage.
  • My husband listening to the bays of a wolf pack while he stayed in the trailer alone one night. We found tracks outside the trailer the next day.
  • Striking water under pressure and seeing it gush out of the ground while we were digging our spring deeper one summer. We’ve been set ever since.
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  • The family from hell we camped next too while on the road who got drunk every night and fought. It ended with half the crowd screeching away in a cloud of dust and spraying rocks one morning.
  • Driving down the highway as we neared our new home with Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream playing on the radio as the sun tipped the horizon to the east.
  • Runnin’ to a dead-end after we discovered the road to our property had been washed out and having to back the trailer into a dirt ravine to turn around.
  • Pulling up our driveway for the first time on the morning of September 18th, 2017.
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    Our latest four panels.

Outdoor Theater

The sky becomes a screen at night.

My husband loves to look at the heavens at night. He has a much better view now that we are away from the light pollution of the urban areas. The difference can be stunning.

Away from the cities, outside becomes like a darkened theater. The screen is the sky and it stretches from horizon to horizon.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve spotted strange lights, some of which have moved erratically then disappeared in the blink of an eye. Others have glided across the sky slowly only to blink out suddenly. UFOs have sometimes been linked to military bases and Fairchild AFB is near us. You never know.

Last year we spotted a very bright object in the southern part of the sky. It didn’t look “natural” so I got out my camera and recorded some video. It appeared every night for a couple of weeks before we lost interest.  Strange Bright Light Moving Across The Sky Near Colville, WA.   This year we realized it was just Venus after my husband checked a star chart.

The Milky Way is more visible in the country and my husband likes to point out the constellations and explain the origins of their names. The stars shine down on us with light that originated thousands of light years in the past and I wonder which of them might not even exist anymore.

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 A few weeks ago we spotted the perfectly lined-up Starlink satellites recently placed into orbit by SpaceX. I counted at least eight spaced equally apart as they traveled together across the sky.

Yesterday we had a Super Moon. That’s when the moon is closest to the earth and appears unusually large, especially when it’s close to the horizon. I made sure I got some shots with my camera.

During the day, we often get an airshow compliments of the pilots from the Air Force base. Once I looked up and saw what looked like a giant penis-shaped contrail in the sky. I later read that a pilot got into some trouble for that.

I say, let the flyboys and girls have a little bit of fun. They’ve earned it. 🙂