Posts from — December 2007

A few pix
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 31, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

I have some pictures (finally!), sorry the quality is not that great, it is from my cell phone, and it takes OK pictures, this will give you an idea of what I get to look at every day. :)

The first 2 are my cabin, it’s a work in progress, we work on it everyday.

This is a beautiful sunset, the pictures do not do it justice.

Bob and Pekoe looking at some deer.

Winds, winds & more winds
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 31, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA


Winds, they are big around here, last night we had the strongest winds yet, it made the first night’s weather seem like a walk in the park. A couple of gusts must have been 70-80 mph, it really made the cabin feel like it was going to blow over. Fortunately Bob had strengthened the cabin up a bit more, he put in a few more cross braces and the biggest improvement was a heavy cable that he strung up from the windward side. The winds seem to come mostly from the west to east, so he placed this cable from the top of the southwest corner of the cabin going to two different trees, that really made a big difference, the cabin didn’t shake nearly as much as it had before. I spent several hours last night in prayer, praying for the wind to calm down and praying that the cabin would hold up. Both prayers were answered, the wind died down around 2 in the morning, and the cabin held up just fine.

Today we found one of our fans, we placed in next to the wood stove, it really helps circulate the heat around the cabin. So far we are running 2 lights (low voltage), a fan, recharging my cell phone and laptop, and a portable radio on a 45 watt solar panel and one of our golf cart batteries. We don’t have all of our electrical systems set up yet, we have 4 more solar panels to hook up and the other 3 golf cart batteries. The only time we ran the single battery down to the point that the inverter started fussing about it was when we tried to recharge 3 of Bob’s 18 volt rechargeable batteries for his tools, we were also running the 2 lights and my laptop at the same time. Actually I stayed up late and watched a couple of movies on my laptop, and it was enough to run the golf cart battery down. I don’t know at what point the inverter starts fussing, but it will not allow the battery to run down completely, that is a good thing.

Merry Christmas
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 25, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Well, our first Christmas on our property, the day has really been just like all the other days, we have just been working on everything. We got the compost system set up, I spent several hours gathering grass and leaves for the base, if you want to learn more about composting toilets, go here: it’s pretty eye opening, and it WORKS! Nothing smells, believe me, I would know it in our small 16×16 cabin! It’s just as sanitary and works great as any other system, especially considering we don’t have running water.

We were invited to our new friend’s house for Christmas dinner, everyone here is so nice! We assumed that we would move out here and pretty much keep to ourselves, we didn’t expect to meet such nice people, we are truly blessed! Sorry if I keep referring to people without using their names, I am trying to maintain our privacy as well as our neighbor’s & friend’s privacy, I just feel it is better that way for everyone.

Woo hoo! I took a shower today, it’s amazing how good that feels after not getting one for a few days, we still don’t have our water systems installed, that will take some time, but our neighbor has graciously allowed us to use his water as much as we need.

Today I was tending some of my plants that I brought from Irving, I have 2 containers of garlic flavored chives, a rosemary plant, and a few other plants, they weren’t very happy with the trip, then change of altitude & weather, but I believe they will survive ok, I was watering the plants with a 5 gallon water container, the kind that goes on a water despenser found in offices and such, the water was left over from our last trip out here, I found a dead mouse in the bottom of the container (eeewwww!!!), poor thing, I hope it didn’t suffer too much, it was well preserved in the icy water, I guess I will not be using that container for drinking water! :)

Well, merry Christmas everyone, and have a safe and happy New Year!

Lots to report
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 25, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Finally, we made it, we left Irving TX for the last time. We had everything ready to go, our 28 foot trailer was packed, the bug was hooked up to a tow bar, the bug was full of boxes, the wiring on the trailer and the bug (for the tail lights) were hooked up (and working properly). All we had to do was get in the vehicles and go, it was a some time after 1 pm and we heard a crash, I went outside to see what had happened, my husband’s son had a car accident right outside, wow, we were minutes from leaving when this happened, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but fortunately everyone involved was OK, though both cars were totaled, the other person involved had to go to the hospital, but the officers and the fire personnel there told me she would be OK. Anyhoo, when we pulled out of the driveway, I looked at my watch and it said 4:30 pm.

The trip was fairly uneventful, after the first few miles, we realized that the trailer would hold up, the tires would hold up (on all the vehicles) and the load would hold up just fine. We had to stop to adjust the tarps once, that took about an hour, we couldn’t just move one thing, it was like a big 3D puzzle, if you touched one thing, you had to move 3 other things, we finally got it straightened up and we were back on the road.

We arrived on my property at about 3:30 in the morning, the moon was all but full, we could see everything, including our breath, it was cold, COLD COLD! And the wind was blowing, I estimate around 15-20 MPH, gusting to 40 on occasion. Our cabin is not completed, it is, for the most part in the dry, meaning that our stuff inside doesn’t get wet when it rains, but some of the walls are basically heavy builder’s plastic and hog wire. We are sitting about 8 feet off the ground. I was really tired when we got in, once we got inside the cabin, I zonked out, even with all the rocking and rolling of the cabin, I told my husband that the cabin would fall whether I was awake or asleep, according to what our neighbor had told us, there had been heavier winds before and the cabin held up just fine, so I had confidence it would stay in one piece for one more night… fortunately I was right.


I found out the the wind gusts the first night were really close to 60-70 mph, and I believe it, but the cabin held up pretty well, nothing fell or blew off, even though it sounded and felt like something was about to give away a couple of times. Fortunately it has been calm each night since then, calm but cold. This morning it was 14 degrees F, that’s COLD! Especially with no heat in the cabin.

Yesterday we completed our first big task, we installed the wood stove, it’s a small one, can’t put much more than twigs inside it, I’d say up to 3 maybe 4 inches in diameter, and maybe up to a foot and a half long. My brother in law made this wood stove, there are many talented people in my husband’s family. This wood stove is really perfect for our little cabin, the only real drawback is since it’s so small, you have to feed it sticks more often than we’d like to, my husband says he will probably install the big wood burning stove later on, but for now, the small one is working like a charm. We decided to celebrate by having our first movie night. Before I left Irving, I spent weeks downloading movies, tonight we decided to watch Eight Below, it’s a great family movie, I recommend it, it was perfect, a few tears, a lot of laughs, we gave it 2 thumbs up.

We ate dinner at our neighbor’s house, he has been such a great friend, we consider ourselves very lucky to have such a great neighbor and friend. He gave us a very nice Christmas card and gift, we really weren’t expecting anything from him. I just don’t know how we would have made it without him, though we would have made it, planned on making it just fine, but with his very generous hospitality, it’s been so much smoother and nicer, they just don’t get any better than he does!

We found out today that one of the people who is considered a cornerstone of this small community passed away, we only met him once, but knew the impact he had on this community, he will be greatly missed. Goodbye BugMan, I’m sorry we didn’t get to know you better, but we know you are in a better place.

Finally! I’m HOME! :)
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 23, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Well, believe it or not, I’m finally here, we left yesterday at about 4:30 in the afternoon (long story!), the trip was for the most part pretty uneventful, we got in about 3:30 in the morning, the moon was nearly full and it was great! Cold. but great, I just overheard someone mention that it is 28 degrees F tonight, it’s supposed to get down to 18 tonight, we have GOT to get that wood stove hooked up… another night snuggling under 6 or 7 blankets, it’s great! Sorry I have to be brief, I’m using my neighbor’s computer, and I’m ignoring everyone, so I have to cut this short, I’ll write more and post it in the coming days.

My bug
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 17, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

This is my bug, it’s a ’69 VW Beetle, even though it looks rough, it’s in pretty good shape, the engine is in great shape, the body is in great shape, very little rust, it shifts good, we just replaced the tires, actually put military tires on the rear, these have a very aggressive tread, they will take just about any abuse/road I can throw at it.

We plan on making it a Baja Bug, we will trim the fenders, add a different exhaust, paint it in camouflage colors (tan, green and black), I’m sure my husband has more plans for this bug, he had many of these when he was younger, and loves the bug. This car will take the abuse of the dirt roads in the mountains where I live, every one else’s cars out there are beat up, even newer cars & trucks are bounced to death in a year or so, my bug will not fall apart because of the roads, and anything that does need to be repaired, replaced or improved will cost much less and be much easier to do.

The last 2 times I was out at my property, I had my small pickup truck, and it worked OK out there, but it was clear that the roads were going to take their toll on my truck in very short order, they refer the roads as “washboard” and that is a pretty good description. I can’t wait to drive my little bug on the rough roads out there. :)

Freezing foods, heaters, cats and texting…
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 17, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Well, it finally stopped raining, but the temp dropped to well below freezing for a couple of days, so we decided to wait until the weather warmed up a bit, doesn’t sound like we are very hardy pioneers… well the reason is a very good one, our food. We have several cases full of canned food and we couldn’t afford to allow it to freeze. We are relying on this food to keep us fed through this winter, so we can’t afford to let anything happen to it.

It got above freezing each day, but it got well below freezing each night (28 F), we knew it would take at least 12 hours to travel the 500 miles we had to go, there would not have been enough time to get there and still have enough time to properly stow our food and keep it from freezing.

The last two nights, we used a portable heater to keep our food from freezing on the trailer, the food is packed in a big cage in the middle of the trailer, we wanted to take the food off the trailer and take it into the house but getting to the food meant removing too many other things off the trailer, it became painfully obvious that we had to find a way to keep the food above freezing, there was no way we were going to get everything off the trailer to get to the food. So we used heavy builder’s plastic and canvas tarps to enclose the cage, then we placed a piece of stainless steel panel inside the cage as a base, and placed a small space heater on the stainless steel panel, there was a good 3 feet of clear space between the front of the heater and the first set of boxes so it was safe. We secured the whole thing to keep cats or any other animals from getting inside, we have lots of feral cats running around here and they would have done just about anything to get inside the heated space, it worked out great, our food stayed good, and no animals got inside.

Now that the freezing weather is past, all we have to do is make sure the vehicles are ready to go, we have to wire up the VW bug’s tail lights so that while it’s being towed, it will be legal (the brake lights will come on when I brake), and tweak the trailer load. We should be leaving for the final trip either Tuesday or Wednesday. Hopefully the next post I make will be from my property.

Oh, one last thing, I can send messages from my cell phone to this blog, the problem is I don’t do the text thing very well, I can type on a regular keyboard just fine, but it takes me a bit more time and effort to “text”, so messages from my phone will be brief and may have typos.

Rain and Bugs
by WRETHAOFFGRID on DECEMBER 12, 2007 - 0 Comments in WRETHA

Ugggg! Will it ever stop raining? I am thankful that we aren’t experiencing the ice like our neighbors to the north… Today I went outside to check on our stuff, our last load of stuff is sitting out on a trailer, it’s covered with builders plastic, it’s basically super heavy plastic, that’s the only thing protecting our belongings. It was still raining a little when I went outside, I noticed that water had pooled in places on the plastic, gallons of cold water threatened to soak everything underneath it. I was able to pull the plastic taught and let the water drain out onto the ground. Ohhhh, it was cold as it flowed over my arms, refreshing!!! It appears so far that everything is OK under the plastic, we will find out when we unload it.

Now on to a more pleasant subject, I have had lots of fun driving my new/old bug! I drove it over to my Dad’s house to show it off, he lives about 30 minutes away, that gave me a chance to try out driving in it, one thing I learned, I’m glad I’m not driving it to west Texas, I will be towing it, just driving to my Dad’s house and back was fun but rough, I don’t think I’d like being rattled for 12 hours. It does need some work, the dash has gaping holes, in case you aren’t familiar with old bugs, the engine is in the rear, the front has the gas tank, wires, the spare tire and the rest is open space, it’s the trunk. There used to be a radio and speakers in the dash, these are missing, and the glove box is missing too, you can look right through from the front seat into the “trunk” area, that means that all the cold air comes right in through all the holes in the dash to the inside of the cab. My husband did have pity on me though, he took a can of spray foam and plastic bags and filled up all the holes in the dash, at least no more air leaks in. Once we get settled in at our new home, he will work on a better solution. When I got to my Dad’s house, he came out and looked it over, just like most dad’s, he wanted to pop the hood, so I showed him the trunk, the first thing he noticed was all the foam, not standard issue on most bugs, I explained that it was temporary. Next I showed him the motor, I don’t think he is very familiar with bug engines, he is a real do it yourself kind of man though, and has changed out his fair share of motors on many other vehicles, so he was able to appreciate the simplicity and durability of the elegant engine that was staring back at him. He also appreciates why we traded my perfectly good truck for that bug, since he had been out to our property and ridden on the rough roads out there, he knows what my truck would look like and sound like a year from now.

Let’s see, what else, oh yeah, getting used to shifting, now I have driven a stick shift for years, but in much newer cars, shifting in a bug is a whole ‘nother animal. The main difference is where they put reverse, in the complete opposite place, you have to push the stick straight down (toward the ground) then pull left and back, it annoyingly near second gear, for the first few times I stopped and started moving again, when I would try to shift from first to second, I would grind toward reverse, it didn’t actually go into reverse, it just made that awful grinding sound as I tried to shift, my husband suggested I try holding the stick in the middle instead of holding the knob, it worked like a charm, when I held on to the knob, I would invariably push down and that allowed it to try to go into reverse with the resulting grinding sound. It does shift pretty smoothly as long as you aren’t trying to shove it in reverse while driving down the street (grin). The clutch pedal is small and close to the brake, just a few inches apart, just another thing to get used to, by the time I was headed home from my Dad’s house, I had it down pretty well.

I can’t wait to drive my bug around my new home, we have miles of up, down, in and around, it’s six miles from the edge of my property to my mail box, the roads are pretty well kept up, but they are still dirt roads and tend to be pretty bouncy and rough, everyone else’s’ cars out there are beat to death, body panels coming loose, rattling and squeaking, the old bugs were designed in Germany at a time when most roads were unimproved, pot holes and ruts, they were designed to last, it’s a testament to designer that you can still see them running around in great shape, how many other cars from the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s do you see driving around in good shape? The motors are great, simple, easy to work on, air cooled, and run forever, the whole thing was really ahead of it’s time. The bug should ride like a dream on the rough roads, and all the dust will not bother the engine or any other moving parts. The two times I had my Ranger pickup out there, I noticed the windows making noise when I rolled them up and down, it was because of all the dust kicked up from the roads. I can just imagine what else was getting damaged from the dust, it’s pretty abrasive and gets into everything.

That’s all for now, hopefully we will be able to leave in a day or so, we are getting pretty itchy to get out of here, it’s supposed to clear up for a day, as soon as it does, we’ll be gone!

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