Thursday 31 July 2014

I Actually Made Money Yesterday

Not a whole lot but $125.00, it’s better than nothing. Okay, I didn’t earn it; it was a refund of the RV storage fees I had paid. Back when I bought Wanda I paid for six months of storage fees to ensure a place to store her. 

Since I am living in her and it is too far out of town to even think of parking her there and living in it(they would catch me anyways) I went to get back what I wasn’t going to use. Well, three weeks or so later, I got my cheque.

I consider it income as when I spend something I never expect to get it back. It is a better way to budget, that way everything that comes in is a bonus and to be celebrated.

Yesterday was too hot to stay inside Wanda so I actually setup my chair outside of her and enjoyed the shade. This was a big step for me as I usually hide in Wanda, pretending I am not there. Or as Harry Potter once said “I shall be in my room, making no noise and pretending I don’t exist.” 

The good news of yesterday was that I got chapter two done. When did I do this? Um . . . yesterday evening . . . that’s it . . . yesterday evening, not during work, no . . . that would be bad. No sir, I did not get inspired and write three quarters of a chapter at work . . . nope. 

One of the good things about writing in novel form what I have written in screenplay form is that I know the story. I know what happens when but we can detour and spend more time in the character’s heads and spend more time with them than you can on screen. I only hope that my detours and time spent describing things do not get boring for the reader, time will tell.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

You’ll Have To Take My Word For It.

Okay, technically you don’t as you are a person who can think for yourself. You can choose to believe this blog entry or not, it is your choice. Why am I asking you to take me at my word today? Because I have no pictures to prove where I was last night. 

So there I was minding my own business as work yesterday; the workday was winding down. I had a few minutes left to go before it is home-time. For me, this meant relaxing in some large parking lot while puttering around Wanda.

I got a text from an old high school friend in Edmonton; well she wasn’t in Edmonton but in Drumheller. I knew that she was planning to come though Calgary but wasn’t really expecting her until the following night. 

We’re in Drumheller, come visit. I stared at the text and contemplated what to say. You see, Drumheller is an hour and a half away . . . and I still had to work the next morning.

The upside of my lifestyle is that I can do this, everything I have I take with me, so wherever I go I am home. I can easily drive off in a random direction and stay for the night at a moment’s notice. So, that’s what I did; last night I moved to Drumheller.

Well, actually to a small town east of Drumheller . . . and a bit east of Rosedale and to a place that I was not sure was an actual town, but they had a nice campground.

I had asked my friend to reserve me a spot next to hers and she did . . . somehow she forgot to communicate to the campsite people that I have a trailer and she was in the tenting section. 

After giving it the old college try and trying to back into a tenting spot in such a way as to not have my truck sticking out and blocking the road a few times, I gave up. 

I didn’t go home, I just went back to the campsite office and got the nearest RV spot . . . it was worth the extra 15 bucks. It wasn’t a pull through spot but I made it a pull through spot . . . prairie grass is tough to kill . . . it’ll be fine. 

What followed was an evening sitting around the campfire talking about anything and everything; spirituality, organized religion, destiny, philosophy, past lives (in short all the topics that make most people roll their eyes) it was fun and enlightening. 

We proceeded to try to solve the world’s problems and indeed we did, but nobody had a pen so we didn’t write the solution down. This morning I can’t remember exactly what it is but it has something to do with potatoes. 

She and her friend are on a wandering tour of rural Alberta. They are having an unplanned style of vacation where the just have an idea where they want to go and just go in that direction. She wanted to see the out of the way things and not the typical or expected. 

That is why while coming to Drumheller, she did not go to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Trust me if you ever are in that area, spend the day and go through it, not only does it have dinosaurs but it tells you the evolutionary history of the world in a very interesting fashion. 

I left early this morning in order to drive the hour and a half to get to work in time. Last night was an interesting adventure that I could have and few others could. I didn’t need to run home to throw some camping gear in my truck or just sleep in my truck; I wanted to go, so I went.

I plan to not go too far and spend very little in the near future. I have the trip to Vancouver coming up, I leave a week Friday (Friday the 8th) and I need to save up for that. 

While I didn’t get any writing done today I was able to get a bit of writing done at work. It was slow and I was inspired so I will admit that I stole a bit of time and wrote a good start on chapter two. The story is starting to gain momentum, and soon will be practically writing itself. (When last I left it, a little girl who wants to be a Healer was trying to give her very reluctant cat a medical examination) Well, I should start work now.

Tuesday 29 July 2014

New Routines

Life is starting to settle into a new set of routines.  I get up, write, get ready for the day, go to work, work, then drive somewhere (rotating my parking spaces around), relax for the evening/do what I need to do, then go to sleep.  The excitement of yesterday evening was finding a Laundromat and doing my laundry. 

The odd thing is that I determine where I sleep by where I end up after my evening errands. I don’t have anywhere specific to go to and the closest thing I have to a fixed point is my place of work.  I just realize where I am and try to remember the nearest mall/big box store in the direction of work and go there. 

I am trying to work in some exercise here and there. On the weekend I did go for a few bike rides. I am still somewhat of a “Mobile Hermit” but I am keeping up with friends via: Facebook, text and email.

What keeps me going is keeping my eye on that first target of getting that first credit card done by the end of August. It is a bit of a stretch, given the trip this month and all, but if the auction sells and there is no delay in payment, it should be done. I’ve already gotten it down to a shade over $1500.00.

I may pay the card off and be in overdraft for a short bit, just to get it done. Silly I know, but it is a goal I want to hit and if it is only a few hundred bucks away, why not. True it is just trading one debt for another but it’s important to me. 

The book is starting to take shape, I have reworked it so the Prologue is now a quick overview of the society where the story is set. Then we start the story in chapter one with our smashing, action opening and go from there. I know and keep telling myself that this is just the first pass of the book.

It will get better and more refined the more times I edit it. First you need to finish the book and then edit the piss out of it.  Each pass you hone and refine what you wrote until if flows nicely. Anyone who tells you that they just write something once and then publish it is lying.

Monday 28 July 2014

Sunday Was a Good Day

Okay, I didn’t get a whole lot done on Sunday, and that was a good thing. I went for a few bike rides, explored the area, tidied up a little bit, you know, got done what I needed to get done, but in essence I really didn’t do that much. Here is my favourite shot of the weekend

I didn’t reopen my repair job on Wanda’s umbilical cord from Trea, as it didn’t seem necessary. When it was all said and done it would have taken only one night in a campsite to charge Wanda up.

I did enjoy the extra time there and was able to setup and experiment with the Solar Panel. I know now that I have a workable solution, but in truth I won’t really know until I start to use it.

I got up and left early this morning. I pulled out of the campsite at 5:30 and made it into Calgary with enough time to pick up a few essential groceries so I could make my lunch before work. On the way, I made time to pull over and get this shot.

 I am getting more used to this lifestyle but I don’t think I will ever be comfortable enough to disconnect from Wanda and leave her in a Walmart parking lot all on her lonesome. I will work up to firing up the BBQ for a nice BBQ’d burger. Who knows it may bring people over for an impromptu tailgate party, who knows.  

I need to do laundry tonight so I will find a local Laundromat and do my one load of laundry.  I have thought about somehow doing them in the bathtub but decided not to be so cheap. I also need to organize my foodstuffs better. It is all just a jumble of stuff from when Wanda was just a weekend trailer and the food from my little room.

I will focus on getting back on track with writing as I need to get this novel finished and to do that, I need to actually get it started, well, past chapter 1.

Well, I should get back to work now. 

Sunday 27 July 2014

Big Boy Worked!

Okay, I will talk about the 100 Watt Solar Panel experiment, but first a lovely shot I took myself yesterday, simply to make you jealous.

Yep, those are real mountains and this view is why I keep coming back to Tunnel Mountain.

Okay, first of all here is what I have to work with, they system is simple, first you have the Solar Panel, (AKA Big Boy). Here is a shot of his front and back (you can figure out which is which)

We have some cables (note the nifty connectors). First of all this is 10 gauge wire, something I didn’t expect but the thicker wire means we lose less energy from the solar panel.

Those wires go to the charge controller box. The Charge Controller regulates the power going to the battery and also to the load. The concept is to protect the batteries. Since you can overcharge your batteries (and damage them) you can also draw too much from them, thereby letting them get too low and also damage them. The charge controller will make sure that everything is hunky-dory.

Next we have cables going to the battery itself. Again this is 10 gauge wire so as to ensure no energy loss.

At the end of the wire going to the positive terminal on the battery we will install a resettable breaker. This is just in case something goes wrong and wires cross or the battery (or load) tries to draw too much current, this little box will cut off the flow of current.

Okay, first let’s get it all assembled . . . tighten this, attach that . . . done.

Okay, so I attached the wires to Ace to charge him up. 

He wasn’t discharged that much as I had him connected to the old solar panel during the day and up to Trea’s batteries during the trip. His little battery meter read 70%. Big Boy agreed . . . See.

In the above picture you will see that the green light by the “Solar” that means that the solar panel is connected properly and giving energy. The green light by the “Load” means that whatever I have connected to the “Load” terminals is working okay (I have no load connected).

The load is where you would connect your Inverter, the Inverter is the box which turns the DC Voltage from the batteries (or solar panel) into AC power, you know the stuff you need to run your laptop or other household appliances.

The three red dots in the dots in the middle are a sort of charge meter, it lets you know how charged up your batteries are. They read that Ace is not fully charged, but not completely dead. There are models which have a more accurate and more detailed readout of this, for my purposes, this model was fine.

Okay now we wait and let it charge up. Since this is a campsite, time has little meaning so I didn’t record how long it would take but eventually not only did Ace say he was fully charged up, but also Big Boy agreed that he was charged. So the system works, and works well, see.

The system will cut out when the batteries are fully charged and can't take anymore. I didn't let it get that far as for me, I just wanted to prove that the system worked and ensure that Ace was charged up. It did that. the first day that I leave Ace and Big Boy alone in the car will truly test the system out. Just like the first evening I connect Big Boy up to Wanda to charge her batteries. While I don't want to do this in winter, the system works and works well. 

I was and am still very impressed with the quality of the products, the prices, and the service I got from They are a Calgary company who are not only able to compete in this market but have great stuff and doing it at unbelievable prices. Trust me, if you are looking for solar, check these guys out, don’t worry, they ship. While I haven’t tested it, I am sure they will actually answer the phone and talk to you.

I also went for a few bike rides and cleaned up around the truck and trailer. I have more to do today, but I will get it done and rest for the weekend. I tested my little TV Tuner stick I bought for 10 bucks from China and it still doesn’t work, even though my real TV could pick up 4 channels. Ah well, such is life, some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t.

Saturday 26 July 2014

She’s Alive! She’s Alive!

I got to the campsite a little after 5 pm yesterday, after picking up the solar panel and charge controller that I had planned to get. I also emptied out my storage unit, but more on that later.

The first thing I did was to connect Wanda’s batteries and measured the voltage, (9.30 Volts). I then plugged Wanda in and measured the batteries again, here is the shot (yes that's in DC Volts).

What this means is that voltage is getting to the batteries from Wanda’s internal charge controller. Her batteries will take a few hours to properly charge up, as batteries do not charge up instantly. So, I will be okay and happy to have power right now; ah the small luxuries of life like stable source of power.

As I said before I went over to my storage unit to empty my main storage unit out and check on the auction for my second storage unit. While the auction was to take place this month, it didn’t happen and won’t happen till late next month. What that meant is that I needed to pay for an extra month to store stuff I don’t want. The upside is that it will be a big auction with lots of people. Hopefully I’ll get more than a case of beer for my stuff. We’ll see.

The place where I got my solar panel from was one where you are hesitant to go inside as it was located in the back of the building, the back of another location. Sure they were primarily an online supplier and called themselves a wholesale company (with prices to match). 

I was surprised by their friendly and expert service and the fact that they had quality stuff. I will see how it goes today during assembly and testing (with Ace) and if it lives up to expectations, I will give them a shout-out (something I don’t do). 

I have lots of cleaning and sorting through of stuff to do this weekend. I need to find temporary homes for things that I want to keep yet are going to the coast. I also need to check over and fix that umbilical cord coming from Trea to make sure that my solder job was correct. Of course I also want to do a bit of sightseeing and biking, after all I am in Banff.  

Friday 25 July 2014

My Dark Hours

So for the last 24 hours the only power I have had access to has been either the POS solar setup or the Cigarette lighter from Trea. I can charge my phone but that’s about it. I haven’t run the laptop in over two days so I have been doing what computing I need either at work or on my smartphone. I still have my portable radio which I use on batteries, so I at least have some music. 

The fridge hasn’t been running since like Tuesday which means that everything in there is room temperature. Some stuff will be fine, like: Mayo, Ketchup, processed cheese, soda, and the artificial coffee creamer to name a few. 

What will not survive is the milk and/or (what was) frozen meat.  I had a few frozen burgers that I was going to BBQ up but never got around to. That has go to, along with perhaps my lunch meat and milk, both of which I just bought.  

Most of my food is the dry/canned food variety, so I will not starve. I will pick up some wieners and barbeque some hot dogs out in Banff this weekend.  I will make the best of this and just carry on. 

It’s funny, most people see going to a campsite as a chance to get away from civilisation, I see it as a chance to get back to a small portion of it: namely in the form of power and water. 

While the AC power from the campsite are charging Wanda (I will monitor this), I will be setting up my new 100 Watt solar panel and charge controller to charge up Ace. I will test to make sure that it works and can charge something up, as next week it will be put to work during all daylight hours. 

The plan is to have ‘Big Boy’ (my name for the 100 Watt solar panel) charge up Ace while I am at work. Then when I get to where I will be parked for the night, have him charge up Wanda. That should keep her batteries topped up. 

I bought a butane powered soldering iron so not only I can make the connections with regards to Big Boy but also so I can inspect the repairs I made to the cable coming from Trea. It is possible that my connection repairs wasn’t done quite right because I was trying to solder 12 Gauge wire with a 25 watt soldering iron. This is not something I recommend, as it does not give off enough heat to compensate for the heat that the thick wire wicks away. 

A friend of mine was talking to me via Facebook and text yesterday and reminded me of the Law of Attraction.  She warned me of the dangers of focussing too much on debt as that is all that I will attract. IE: Whatever you focus on is what you will get. 

I reminded her (and myself) that this journey is and always has been about freedom: financial freedom in the form of needing less cash flow to survive. I want and need to get to a point where I need less cash to live. 

What started me on this journey was the realization that my lifestyle was not enjoyable or sustainable. My cash flow sucked or rather my costs were too high. What woke me up and struck fear in me was the thought of what would happen if I lost my job. I would be ruined as I had no savings and bills that were too high to be paid working at McDonalds. That was when I decided that I needed to lower the comfort and cost of my lifestyle to deal with the monkey on my back of debt once and for all.

When the credit cards are dealt with and I have a small nest egg in the bank, then I can do what I want to do. I know now that given favourable temperatures I could live in Wanda indefinitely. I want to be able to work in the film industry, not in my current job. My current target to start do to this is April 1, 2016.

I know that life can and will toss me a curve ball. In a year or two I may find myself in some wildly different situation than I am now or ever imagined. That’s the fun of life isn’t it; you never really know what is going to come your way. All you can do is just roll with it, deal with it, and move on. 

Thursday 24 July 2014

Wanda Is Out of Power

I tried to use my 20 watt solar panel and charge controller to charge up Wanda’s batteries, but that didn’t work. My guess is that whatever systems that are within Wanda that are constantly operating are consuming more power than that tiny panel can give, thus a steady drain instead of a charge. I confirmed this as the panel was disconnected overnight but still more power tricked away from her.

As of this morning I had to disconnect the batteries to ensure that they weren’t drained to dangerous levels.  As it is, they were effectively dead at just under 9 volts. Sure I have two 6 VDC Deep Cycle batteries in her, which in theory can handle being drained so completely, but nobody likes to push it.

With the batteries dead it means more than simply the lights won’t work, it means the water pump won’t work; so no fresh water. This morning I took two juice jugs and filled them up at work, took them back and poured them into my emergency water jug. I will have enough water to get through tonight and into tomorrow. I will be camping this weekend with full hookups, so I will charge up Wanda then. 

Also a further complication is that with no power the control systems for the fridge/freezer won’t work. Sure it will run on propane, but the fridge needs 12 VDC to control the system. So right now I have two coolers with one blue gel ice pack in each keeping things somewhat cool. On a happy note so the stove will always work, as it just uses a mechanical valve to release the propane and the igniter generates its own power (like a BBQ igniter). 

I should have seen this situation coming. My first clue that the 12 VDC power tap from the truck never made it to Wanda’s batteries came when I went to pick her up one time from the field storage. I had a habit of disconnecting her batteries to prevent her from being drained while sitting idle. I had the truck running and Wanda plugged in as I was hitching up so in theory 12 VDC was getting to Wanda. 

The motor which lifts the foot that supports the hitch when it is not connected to your truck wouldn’t work. In theory, as long as power was coming from the truck I should have been able to run all of Wanda’s systems from my truck battery. It wasn’t until I connected Wanda’s batteries that the motor would run and the hitch leg lifted. 

This is the longest that I have continuously used her and the other times I was plugged in at a campsite, so naturally there are some things that I won’t/ haven’t been able to foresee. In hindsight we can kick ourselves for not seeing then what we see now, I must resist the urge to run myself down. Heck if I was all that good at planning, I would have never run up those damn cards in the first place. 

I know now that I need to get a 100 Watt solar panel to charge up Wanda on a regular basis. I can put it out on the back of the truck and connect it up the batteries in the evenings, all day on weekends. That should do, until I can get a more permanent solution installed.  So, while I can’t really afford it, I will pick one up tomorrow after work and before heading out to the campsite. 

The other thing I need to do tomorrow is empty my storage unit. Since next Friday is the first of August, tomorrow is the last day that I will have available to get the last of what I want to keep out of storage. I hope that the auction when through okay and that I actually have a bit of money coming my way. Otherwise I will actually have to pay for another month of storage on the stuff I want to get rid of. 

Remember this: one thing at a time; one problem at a time; one day at a time. All you have to do is do what you can, right now. Look after the things that you can actually make a difference with today. Plan for tomorrow, sure, but work for and focus on, today.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Electricity Is Everything

This journey is a constant cycle of analysis and revision. You solve one problem and another one pops up, or your initial solution proves inadequate. You need to have an attitude that problems are not bad news, just a situation to be resolved. 

For me it is the fact that I had thought that the charge coming from Treabilla would be enough to charge Wanda’s batteries, proved incorrect. Wanda’s batteries are running dangerously low, so I dare not even use the slide out. If her batteries run out then I won’t even have water. 

I know that the answer is to install a proper solar charging system in Wanda to truly correct the situation.  Since I am vehemently committed to getting rid of my first card by the end of August, this will not happen. I can however find a campsite with a plugin and stay for a few days, letting the power mains charge up Wanda. It is not an idea situation, but a workable one. 

What further complicates things is that it takes too long to charge Ace up for him to be a practical use for running the Laptop. I brought the laptop into work to charge all day as Ace charges up in the truck. If I had more power I could run the laptop longer and perhaps write more or do something like play a game. Again I dare not waste the precious resource of electricity and computer time on a video game.

I can make this work, it will mean that I will simply have to use less and less power, somehow conserve my electrical resources until a permanent solution can be enacted. As I sit and camp this weekend I will be reinstalling the operating system on my laptop as it has grown slower than my old 486. It happens to windows computers which have been installed for too long, I don’t know why, but it does. So, rather than buy a new computer, I will just reinstall this one.

There is always something that you don’t think of, some complication that you failed to foresee. That is life, simply roll with it. Don’t get angry or put yourself down because of a choice that you made. You made a choice and went with it, sometimes it proves correct, sometimes not; that’s life, get over it.  

When faced with a challenge, the first thing is to accept that whatever is happening, is actually happening. The next thing to do is determine what exactly is going on and what isn’t. Finally, figure out what you can do about it and do that. If you need to, take a few moments to swear and get angry; then let the anger go and rationally deal with the situation. This is something that I am learning. 

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Back To My Quiet Place

I did get some considerable writing done yesterday morning, I finished Chapter 1. It is a short chapter and the very first pass. I know that it will fatten up the more times I edit and revise it, trust me, I will do that a lot. I started on Chapter 2 this morning and got a bit done. 

Yesterday I made the same mistake that I have made before and as a result Ace did not charge, but I did use him to charge my cell phone last night and he is charging now.  

I returned to a nice quiet spot near a grocery store, with the idea of going for a bike ride. In truth, I relaxed and didn’t do anything. I will tell you this; the lack of reliable AC power sure does cut down on my messing around on the computer time. 

I know that I need to get out more and I will, once I get more comfortable camping and parking in parking lots. I have yet to sit outside under my awning or dare fire up my barbeque. It is bold enough of me to put my slide-out out (it gives me more room inside). 

I am looking forward to making serious headway on these cards, thereby making all of this upheaval worth it. I had planned to put at least 500 on the card this paycheque, and I may do that. I have to pay my bills and set aside money for the trip. After that I can look and see if it is possible, I hope so, as then I would be on track for the end of August payout of the first card. 

The one bright spot is that this paycheque marks the first one since turning 18, (a *gulp* few years ago) that I will don’t owe anybody rent . . . think about that. Wanda’s payment keeps coming out of the bank every second Thursday, like clockwork.  

In general, I seem to be in a constant state of waiting for something to happen, for something better to come along. I have so many ideas, so many dreams but all of them require money and at the very least, me to be somewhat debt free in order to pursue them. 

I dare not do anything risky anytime soon, I can’t rock the boat until I have my credit cards paid off and a small nest egg put away to live on as I do something crazy and fun. That does not stop me from actually getting out of the trailer and living life. 

It is a slow process and in truth I hate and suck at change, but I am getting better. This whole process has scared me and had me second-guessing myself like crazy. I simply decided and continue to decide to push through that and not let the fear and what others may think stop me from doing what I need to do for me, at this point in my life. 

So, I will leave you all with this, if you happen to be in Calgary, drop me a message and we can get together for a visit. I may have beer, but I will certainly have a barbeque, and always, always have coffee standing by.

Monday 21 July 2014

Moved to Castor Over the Weekend, Then the Inevitable Happened

First of all, the nice part of my weekend (which was most of it). I drove up to Castor, Alberta to visit a friend of mine over the weekend. (See)

Where is Castor? It’s here.

I ended helping out put up some siding on her house as well as visit her over the weekend. Her dogs (Chihuahuas) were a funny pair. They would lose their minds, barking at me when I either entered the house or got up from my chair, if I knelt down to let them smell me, they would stay back and still bark. Yet when I was sitting, I was their bestest friend, and favourite spot to sit. (Here is me with my personal, vicious guard dogs).

Castor is a nice, typical, small prairie farming town and I regret not getting more shots of it. Overall it was a clean and well-kept small town; yes even the trailer park was ordered and neat. As you probably know most of the small towns across the prairies are founded around the railroad and the grain elevator, Castor is no different. 

As the oil and gas industry took up prominence within Alberta, these small towns started to take on am oil and gas support segment. Most have some sort of oil and gas support businesses, like pipeline inspection/maintenance, others, like Castor, has something else, like a great hospital with a helicopter pad.  (Sorry, no pic)

It was nice to see her and her place after so long. Her kids are getting big (they tend to do that). Unfortunately that: good cooking, country air and my tendency to wake up early meant that pretty much I went to bed when the kids did and woke up at (gasp) 6:30 . . . (what a sloth I am).

It seems that Ace won’t charge up to the point that the charge controller won’t kick out (say that it is fully charged). Yet, Ace’s own battery reader says he is charged, so I give up. I am using him this morning, charge him today, and hope that he will be charged by morning.

The trip to Castor and back took a full tank and so I went to my favourite place to get fuel. It is a big-box wholesaler which is open to the public (with a membership). It also sells fuel and is usually the cheapest place around. 

By the time I got there last night the store and gas station were closed (I figured as much) but the hours on the sign indicated that they would be open in the morning with plenty of time for me to fill up and get to work. 

Since I also needed propane (yet they don’t sell it) I filled the propane tank at a nearby gas station (which was 5 cents a litre higher) and decided to camp there for the night. I found the most isolated spot in the massive and vacant parking lot and got ready for bed. 

I was in bed and dozing off at 10 pm when there was a knock on the door informing me “we don’t usually allow people to camp overnight on our premises, but I believe that [well know big box retailer] encourages that.” I did what I always do, defuse the situation and deal with it, its instinct, I’m a problem solver. 

As I was driving away, that was when the indignation and anger hit me. I wasn’t hurting anyone, I didn’t strike up the barbeque, set up a portable fire pit, have a party or anything; I was asleep (well, almost). If it wasn’t for the fact that their fuel was that much cheaper, I wouldn’t be back, especially this morning. 

So I am parked this morning in the parking lot of a nearby big box retailer. I didn’t get any writing done, this weekend but I will get back to it now. Take care, all.

Friday 18 July 2014

Parking Lots Are Better

I drove over to one end of a large “Big Box” shopping centre so I could have easy access to the trail system. I was determined to park in a “non-threatening area” (ie, not in a residential area) yet still be able to get to and ride along the river valley trail system. At least that was the plan; Mother Nature had other ideas for my evening.

As I exited work the wind was intense so we had a dust storm; this was my first clue that Geoffie was not riding tonight. The other came after I had parked in that parking lot and while having dinner: the rain started. 

Once the thunderstorm started (but no hail where I was thankfully) I determined that I was not all that terribly dedicated to go biking that night. Riding in heavy wind and rain didn’t sound like fun for me. 

So I sat on my couch and watched the rain as I pondered how to tweak the latest chapter of my Tanea novel.

I was planning to go somewhere else to park for the night but once the rain died down I realized that I was parked in an obscure area of this parking lot and that parking spaces were not in great demand. That was when I said heck with it, I’m staying here tonight. 

As I was settling in for the night, I unwound while sipping on a relaxing drink something else occurred to me. I realized that nobody bugs you in a parking lot. There are no cars and/or big trucks zooming by to shake the trailer. Nobody walks right beside your house and looks at you odd. 

I also realized a few other things on the subject of Parking Lot Camping. Here are a few suggestions that I came up with about finding the right parking lot to camp in. I would discourage someone trying to camp in a parking lot with a tent . . . that might be a bit bold, shall we say.  

For one, don’t pick a small one. Remember that you are staying where you shouldn’t and that those parking spaces are for the customers of the businesses at that location, not for your convenience. If you take up five – ten spaces in some small strip mall you will not only take up an inordinate amount of spaces and give nothing back, but you will likely block out the sight of a business or two from the road, being even ruder. That is why you pick a large lot, as in a shopping centre or some big box retail store. With large shopping malls however, they may have the security guys in a truck to come around and shoo you away.

Next, now that you have found your big box parking lot, make sure that it is at least half empty. If it is crowded, go away and come back when it is less full. Once again, those spaces are for the paying customers, so be considerate and let them have it.

Okay, so we have found our large, half empty parking lot. Next, look around; look for the area that nobody is parking in, it is usually some area far away from the door, or in some other odd/obscure area. That is where you park; go where nobody wants to go. If you have a choice, try to find a spot that is quiet and not right next to the road.

An important thing to remember is make sure that you don’t block anything or anyone in. Once again, be considerate, don’t block the garbage bins in or block some staff member’s car in. Remember, when it comes right down to it, you don’t have a right to be there, so act like a guest.

This falls under the category of  "I shouldn't have to mention it, but I will." No, you can't disconnect from your trailer and stay there for two weeks straight. I only mention it because I have seen it. Camp where you need to but then leave the next morning, preferably before the store opens or shortly thereafter. Go do what you have to do, go to work, see the sights, what have you, but take your trailer with you. if you need to return to the same spot, do so but park in a slightly different spot. Never disconnect from your trailer unless you have to and know that you will be back and gone the next morning.

The final suggestion is that if you have any shopping to do, make sure to patronize the businesses whose parking lot you are currently camped in. You are using their property to sleep for the night, if you happen to be in a grocery store parking lot, would it kill you to buy a few groceries?  

On a personal note, Ace was not charged up by the end of yesterday or this morning. I will measure him and ensure that he is at least charging up, if slowly. I am going on my first road trip to visit a friend, who lives a few hours away, for the weekend. It should be fun. 

On the way I will plug Ace into Trea’s power port (AKA Cigarette lighter), that way, while still using the charge controller, Ace will charge but not from the solar panel. 

Thursday 17 July 2014

I Cheated, But Still Went For My Bike Ride

I figured that it was too hot to barbeque so I went to McDonalds. Okay I might have not had the nerve to pull out my table, set up my portable barbeque and make dinner. Yes, the thought did occur to me that how lazy can you be if you get fast food when you are towing a kitchen around with you wherever you go?

The best thing about last night was the fact that I found a wonderful place to park by the river with access to the river path system.  I will have to visit it again. I will try to find another access point, closer to work.

If it wasn’t for the sign that said “Gates will be locked at dusk” I might have stayed there, but then again the large and beautiful houses overlooking this parking lot gave me a moment of pause. The people who I imagined would live there seemed like the kind who would complain about someone “camping out” there. The last thing I need is hassle from the fuzz. 

It was quite hot though and I had all the windows open most of the evening and half way through the night. I actually wished I had an AC plug in so I could run the air conditioner.  

Ace did get partly charged up by yesterday evening, so the system is working, and since I didn’t know exactly how charged he was, it is hard to say if he was fully charged to begin with. If he was fully charged, however, it is not going to work entirely as I had envisioned. 

That’s okay though. As long as I use him to charge the phone and recharge the laptop, it should work. The internal laptop battery can work for almost two mornings; so in essence, it should work if it takes two days to charge Ace. Then again, if he is fully charged, maybe it will only take a day to top him up. I need more experimentation to figure this out.

I found a different side-street in a slightly different commercial area to park and sleep last night. I will admit that this morning I have started to have a feeling of not really belonging anywhere, always “squatting” wherever I go. I know that I don’t “squat” in the traditional sense, I don’t break into people’s houses and live there but I do make a home on random streets. Once again, this whole experience would be better with someone to share it with, but that’s not possible; I know that.

I need to get out more and do things, try to socialize more; that much is clear. I will go for another, longer bike ride tonight. I know I can and will make this work. I have a plan to get this debt under control, and I need to stick to it. 

Wednesday 16 July 2014

A Quiet Evening At Home . . . On the Range

Okay, so apparently I had one setting wrong when setting Ace up to charge yesterday. What that meant is that no charging took place, so he didn’t last long last night. I then spent some time and figured out what I did wrong and set him up to charge. There was still light out and apparently enough to charge him  . . . he is still there charging away. I will let you know how long it takes to fully charge him. 

Since Ace was not charged enough to use, that meant that I had a quiet evening and this time I opened the door, not only to cool Wanda but also to sit on the doorstep. I watched the sunset over my wetland and enjoyed the antics of the birds.  The phone was charging while plugged into Trea, so I had her passenger window down, so I could hear it ring. It was a forced evening of calm, and a nice respite. 

I woke up late again this morning, and checked the alarm setting  . . . apparently I had only set it for Monday, not during the weekdays  . . . oops. Good thing I am a morning person, who doesn’t really need an alarm. 

The laptop had enough charge in it to last during my writing session this morning and had more to go. I did make more headway, not as much as when I am in my peek, but the story is coming out of me now, so this is good. I know that if I force myself to write each morning, it will pick up speed and the story will flow easier. 

I am getting used to having people come and go by me as I do my thing. I didn’t pay anyone any mind this morning.  I just did my morning routine and ignored them, and likewise they seemed to ignore me. 

Tonight I will try to go for a bike ride in a park and even, if I dare, have a small barbeque. Who knows, that’s the fun of towing my house behind me, my options are open.  

I am still smiling that in the span of 3 paycheques I should have the first credit card done. That would make it by the end of August. If I keep going then by the end of December the next one will be dead. That one may take a bit longer, depending on when I need to hibernate for the winter. 

I know that to make this happen I need to actually buckle down and put money on credit cards. I think that my outfitting of Wanda is done, and I don’t really need anything more, so my pay-down of debt should pick up speed.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

The Morning of Day Two

Okay, I am at work and so far no great boogie-man or other all-powerful authority figure has come by and told me that I can’t do this that I must rent a cubby-hole. Strangely enough, I am expecting such a visit.

As I was sitting, having my coffee and writing this morning , cars were pulling up to go to work at the place across the street from me. Nobody came over but I felt a few looks my way, though I cannot be certain. To be fair, I don’t know if anyone paid me any mind other than “that truck and trailer is not usually there.”

I got a bit nervous when I noticed someone parked in their truck on the phone. I remember wondering if they were going to call the police or have me towed away. I know that I was parked on a proper street and that there was no parking restrictions, yet still the fear lingers. 

I am doing something which not many people do and most consider crazy or something one does when you have no other options. All my life I have been taught and told that you have to rent a house, have to rent a room, I just wonder, why? It is expensive, and I can’t take it with me. 

Right now I need to pay my bills and live as cheaply as possible. Since I am just not wired to allow myself to be a “kept man,” Amateur Gigolo to a woman who will pay my bills is out of the question. Even as I write this I know that I am trying to convince myself, rather than you, of the rightness of what I am doing.  

I just need to get used to being parked, and sleeping, in places where most don’t. As long as I am considerate and keep to places where most won’t mind, I should be fine. 

As far as large shopping centre parking lots, I am a bit long to park in two stalls, thereby necessitating parking across a number of stalls so as to not block traffic. This is something I don’t want to do until after said store closes, so the parking lot camping seems to be out of the question, for now.

I know that in a week or two I will be fine, but this uneasiness of a new and, shall we say, different lifestyle is something that I am experiencing, at this moment. So if anyone is crazy enough to try this, expect that sensation to come. I still trust that, in time, I will not only get used to, but start to enjoy, this mobile lifestyle. 

I will say that while I did get up a bit later than usual (mental note, turn on the snooze function on the alarm) I did get some writing done, so progress is progress. As far as “Ace” (my name for my 700 Watt Eliminator battery pack) is concerned, he did great. Not only did he happily run the laptop for the few hours that I was writing as well as last night, but also charged my phone.  

Right now he is in the back seat of Treabilla with the charge controller while the solar panel is across the dash.  I hope that he will be fully charged by the end of work. If that happens then I will be fine as far as AC power goes. 

I will say this that this mobile lifestyle makes you constantly focussed on how much water and power you are using, as those resources are finite. Sure, I can charge up Ace and run Trea to charge Wanda’s batteries , but they only last so long. 

The water and propane tanks only hold only so much before I must pay to dump the grey and blackwater tanks and fill the fresh water tank. As well when the propane tanks are empty I must buy more propane. In essence, everything costs something, what that means is that everything is precious and shouldn’t be wasted. 

Monday 14 July 2014

The Evening of Day One

As I sit here and sip my beer, relaxing after the day of work in my new favourite spot, I think to myself . . . I could get used to this. I will share a few pictures of where I am parked before I continue.

Believe it or not I am still within the Industrial area where I work and that is an actual wetland. What makes this even more choice is that this is just a few blocks from work.

My best guess is that this is the area which is reserved so that water from storm drains and other underwater streams have a place to drain to and then be absorbed by the groundwater. All I do know is that it is a small patch of nature in the midst of industrial development.

There is a street which runs beside it and the only parking restrictions (other than the fire hydrants) are “snow routes” so I am golden until the next massive snowfall and the city needs to plow the streets.

The only downside so-far is that the USB TV tuner that I bought has yet to pick up any channels. I will keep at it but for ten bucks out of China, who knows what the problem is.

I will unwind tonight but tomorrow morning I will try to get back into writing, I hope to finally get going on some sort of creative writing venture, rather than writing the Tanea Series, Season One, Version Eight . . . (I need help,  I know that).

In all seriousness I plan to sit down and write the first Tanea Novel in hopes to get that project finally rolling, after all these years (since 2001). Well, wish me luck.

First Day At Work After The Move

I was camping this weekend in a beautiful area which had spotty to no cell service. That means that I didn’t get all of your messages and well-wishes until this morning . . . thank you, all of you.

McLean Creek was, as I said a well-organized campground in beautiful surroundings. The one interesting bonus was the fact that someone had horses in the campground area so they were wandering the forests around and behind my campsite. I also liked the fact that it had a fire-pit, a simple camping pleasure that seems to be denied you in Parks Canada Campsites (at least the ones in Banff).

I got up and drove back to town in plenty of time to do a bit of last minute shopping (for my lunch) and splurge on fast food breakfast.  I know that I need to do some proper grocery shopping tonight.

The two things that I left off my list of things which may screw me over are: 1) Theft, and 2) Towed/Impounded. 

As I sit here at work I can’t help but worry a bit that either someone will take the corner too wide and plow into Wanda. Then again there is the thought that someone could just simply steal Trea and Wanda. Then of course there is the possibility of some parking-Nazi impounding my truck for some obscure regulation.  I will resist the urge to go out at lunch to check, as either they will be there (in tact) at the end of they won’t. 

I still haven’t told my boss about this move and I am putting that off as I don’t want him to think that I am 1) too weird and/or 2) a charity case. The truth is and it was emphasised this weekend that I don’t need anything larger than Wanda right now. She has all the stuff that I need and as long as I can find a place to park and the pipes won’t freeze, I’ll be fine. Well, time  to start work now.

Saturday 12 July 2014

I Did It! I Am Now One “Event” Away From Being Royally Screwed.

At 9:12 AM this morning (July 12, 2014) I pulled away from the house that contained my room for the last time. I have lived here since late January of this year and I have mixed feelings leaving it. It is a nice room in a nice neighbourhood and Landlady has been good to me. I know that, however crazy, this ‘Urban Nomad’ endeavour is something that I must do, at least for now.

I got up at the usual time (for me), played a bit of LOTRO (Lord Of The Rings Online) this morning and then started my day. I decided to start early and slowly load up the truck and Wanda rather than in a rush.

I took Landlady’s advice and backed Wanda up to and part way up the driveway. She told me that she was going to be up and gone early this morning so she gave me my damage deposit back (in full) last night, even before the move (very nice). I figured that she had gotten a ride from a friend so I thought nothing of blocking her car in.

I tell you this was the easiest move that I have ever made. Can you ever say that you moved from one house to another when the new house was parked in the driveway of the old one? Hmm? I can, trust me, it was sweet, and didn’t take that long; I don’t have much stuff now.

I had just loaded up the last of the stuff into Wanda and was about to start the cleaning of my room when I heard some movement upstairs. I thought this was odd as it was almost nine and Landlady was supposed to be gone by now.

Sure enough it was Landlady just getting up . . . we have very different definitions of “Up and gone early.”

She was running a bit late and because I was parked behind her I had to either clean fast and go or move Wanda, clean then lock the house and put the keys in the mailbox. I cleaned fast because I didn’t like the thought of leaving the house as a “Thief’s Special.”

After that I:

Deposited the refunded damage deposit into the bank
Had a nice breakfast at IKEA. (remember, free coffee with your $1.00 breakfast before ten) (doors open at 9:30).
Stopped by my storage unit to put my extra bedding into storage
Went to Canadian Tire to pick up Firewood and a portable Propane BBQ.

I am now sitting in an information booth parking lot (stealing Wi-Fi) just inside the entrance to Kananaskis Country. I can’t check into my Camping Spot at Mclean Creek until 4:00 pm and it is now 1:00 PM.

I decided to go camping this weekend to celebrate my big move and to have the space to sort through my stuff and find homes for things and decide what I still have to get rid of. I will camp tonight (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday).

I can do this because I will just get up early Monday and drive to work. The campsite is not that far from Calgary, but still remote and in beautiful country . . . (I love this province) city life and still easy access to open and wild country.

As I sit here and unwind it is not lost on me the fact that (for all intents and purposes) everything I own is with me. I mean in storage I have: two framed pictures, two small tables, and bedding which will be used to pad them for their trip to the coast (Vancouver) . . . that’s it. Everything else I own is either in my truck or Wanda.

While I am safer from some events than other people, you know, those who live in houses and other stationery housing. I mean if any of the following were to happen, I can just drive my house away:

Riot and/or Breakdown of social order
Zombie Apocalypse
The rise of the machines and/or the Apes

Other things I am not so protected from, and in fact more vulnerable and exposed to the risk of losing everything, such as:

Car Accident which writes off Treabilla and/or Wanda
Home Invasion

Still other things I am just as exposed and at risk as anyone else, such as:

Meteor strike
Nuclear Holocaust
Ice age (but then again I do have a furnace)
World War 3

In all seriousness, I wish to convey that I know that this lifestyle is not for everyone and not without its risks but it also has its upsides. For one, and for the first time since I was 18, I don’t pay rent . . . to anyone.

Sure I pay for Wanda but that is only $122.00 every two weeks, and that is payments on ownership of her, not rent. There is a chance I can see some of that back down the road, should I sell her. With rent, once you pay it, it is gone and you don’t get any of it back, ever.

As far as I figure, if things go as predicted and we do have a warmer than usual winter, I should be forced to rent a room (or tough it out in Wanda with no water) for four – maybe five months, January to April sure, but possibly December, and even April is iffy, but I know I will have to pay for the full month, and April 1 is pushing it in Calgary.

I am on track for getting my first Credit Card done by the first paycheque of September. On the outside I may have a bit left over for the second of September paycheque, but that is at the latest. I know this is what I need to do, I am looking forward to getting caught up on these @#$% credit cards, then on to the fun part of saving up for my move and paying down Wanda.

Saturday 5 July 2014

One Week to Go

It’s funny, I asked for this, I planned for this, I have chosen this, but I am still anticipating and apprehensive about moving out into the great wide open.

Sure I have Wanda, but this is not a weekend but for now on. I will be moving out of a perfectly good room and into my trailer. I will be parking in parking lots and on side-streets and sleeping in a trailer still attached to my truck.

This is a process though; I want to get through it and into a place of financial stability and security. I look forward to the day that the only debts that I have are the current ones, or rather the ones with a fixed end date.

It seems like a lonely process and I know what you’re thinking, just get a girlfriend or roommate. While that is always an option, I somehow end up being the “responsible” one, the one where the bucks and bills stop at.

While it would be great to have someone to go through this process with, I know that this is not a realistic option. I can’t imagine a woman who would want to date a man living so . . . shall we say . . . in an unfixed way.

My ideal woman would be someone who would move into my life and Wanda, focussing on paying down my (and hers) bills . . . I won’t hold my breath waiting for her to appear. I have covered this before but I know what is expected of a man in a relationship; as a provider and you know . . . someone with a house and all that. I get it, I can’t give that, so I won’t waste anyone’s time.

I broke a promise to myself yesterday; I bought the power box, solar panel and charge controller. I was going to wait until I got paid on Monday, but I wanted to have enough time to put it through its paces of charging and using it to ensure that it would suffice before my move out next Saturday. If this power box system is not going to work, I wanted to know sooner rather than later.

The first initial tests worked out great, and with the connection accessories that came with the Solar panel, I was able to make a few quick connect options. This way I can use the charge controller at all times when charging the unit, but have options on how to charge it. I can charge it by: 1) Solar Panel. 2) Cigarette Lighter Plug, 3) AC Adapter plug.

Things are looking up. I am while I am still a little apprehensive I am mostly excited for taking this next step. I know that this is the path I must take to pay down my bills, I just wish I didn’t have to walk it alone.  

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Solar Power Update

Okay, when last we talked I was considering my options when it came to how to get 120 VAC power within Wanda, economically. I need this so I can power my laptop and charge my cellphone (without leaving it plugged into Treabilla with the windows down so I can hear it ring.

I have checked around and there are better options when it comes to a permanent installation within Wanda. I found a place where I can get a single 250 watt panel and system (with 1000 Watt True sign wave inverter) for about $1000.00. Add to that the installation cost of an estimated $500.00 or more. I just don’t want to install it myself and end up with holes in my roof or a hack job on the interior.

All that said, I need to be willing to drop $1500 .00 – $2000.00 for this system. My simple solution of just under $500.00 is looking like the prudent option at this point. It will do what I need but not cost too much. I can get a better solar solution installed down the road but for my piece of mind I need to make headway on these credit cards.

I have already been six months on this journey with little headway to show for it. As it is I have a trip to the coast that will cost me around 500.00 in fuel. I need to take this trip to deliver this furniture and it will be good to see family. I hope to have my first card done by the Sept 7 paycheque.