“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cool, dry and windy. To boat, or not to boat? That is the question.


It's a perfect day up here in the Smoky Mountains.  The cold air mass from up north finally pushed all the wet, hot air out. The humidity outside is down to 48%, and the temperture is 72 with a nice breeze blowing.

I have been catching up on reading other people's blogs.  As you'd expect with the weather so nice in most parts of the country, there haven't been a lot of updates lately.






In a little bit I'm going out and run the generator again.  I want to run the last bit of fuel out of the tank and replace it with fresh diesel.  Everything else seems to be in order so that's one less thing to worry about.


  I really don't like using the generator because I am uncomfortable with the noise it makes. Sound carries a long, long way in the mountains. Especially in winter, when the air is very dry and cold.  It's like a big neon sign saying "here I am!"  I use it for extended outages, which strangely enough have been more frequent in the last couple of years than I can remember, with the exception of major storms.

Still, you can't be without one up here. Not unless you like candles a whole lot.



I built everything out of cedar logs here on the mountain.  They last forever and blend into the forest well.  I don't suppose anyone could do that now , given that we can't import as much lumber from Canada and the price of  cedar is ridiculous.  I pay $50.00 now for a small bundle of cedar shakes I can lift with one hand, but I have to have them to replace shakes on the roofs of the buildings.

Logistics.  Fix this, repair that, mow this, trim that.  If we lived in an apartment at least I wouldn't spend so much of every waking day either working on the place or worrying about not working on the place.




I often think about buying a small houseboat.  Some years back I went out to Lake Shasta with my brothers, and we rented one for a week. It was pretty basic, but it was very comfortable and it certainly gave you a way to get out away from the maddening crowd while still taking the creature comforts with you. The boat engine ran off diesel and all the amenities like hot water heater, refrigerator, stove, and air conditioner ran off propane.





Before we went out to the marina, we made three stops. One at a liquor store, where my brothers loaded up copious quantities of Jose Cuervo, Dos Equis,  Tequila, Vodka, and some more mundane beer like Michelob.  Then to a grocery store, where we spent lavishly on food.  Finally we stopped at a tobacco store where I got some really fine tobacco for my pipe.  Thus supplied, it was on to the marina.


The cost of the boat for a solid week was under $500.00.  That included the initial fill of propane and diesel. You'd spend more than that for a decent motel room.



One of my brothers brought a smaller boat along.  That was a good idea, because the houseboat is not something you would want to  motor all the way down the length of the lake just to buy some groceries.

Most of the traffic on the lake is at one end, where the ramps and stores and marinas are. The other end of this particular lake was largely deserted. So we put the houseboat down there, and just used the "skiff" to run errands.







This was a modest boat by the standards of "house boaters" but if it was spartan, it was comfortable. It even had a grill on the bow where you could cook if you didn't want to use the kitchen.




The kitchen was pretty large, and wasn't much different from the kitchen you probably have in your house. The boat came equipped with all the kitchen paraphernalia, all you had to do was bring your own supplies.


At night, we'd just find some secluded spot along the shoreline, pull in, build a fire, and relax.









We could have just gone out in the middle of the lake and let the boat drift at night, but even down at the far end there were some idiots in speed boats who would have been perfectly capable of ramming us full tilt in the dark, despite the navigation lights.




There were two bedrooms on the boat.  One had six bunks, stacked two high. My brother R's dog appropriated one for herself but that still left five aft and two forward. We could comfortably have slept eight people, or more if there were couples.


This is the dining room / living room.  It was very big , considering, and was right in line with the kitchen further aft, so cooking and cleaning up afterwards were easy.




 I had never had a lot to do with boating except sail boats, and I was a little worried about how this would be to maneuver. It turned out to be a lot easier than driving a car.


Essentials for the well equipped house boater. GPS, cell phone, binoculars, FRS/GMRS base unit, M1911A1 Colt.
The only issue we had was during a trip to get more propane. The etiquette for house
boating is that you get in line and wait your turn to pull in for fuel, groceries, and to offload "gray water."  We were in line and some guy in a big expensive boat tried to cut in the line up near the front.

This did not set well with my youngest brother, former Marine and retired policeman. He makes me look like a paragon of virtue when it comes to temper control. My brother took our houseboat and cut the guy off, which resulted in a frank and open exchanges of views with the people on the other boat. They were all hot air and backed off, going on to the tail of the line, but it was a little more excitement than I needed in a state that has some very strange laws about situations like that. In Georgia we know how to deal with aggressive ,rude people. But in California, it's like another world.

The bathrooms on the boat (there were two)  were about like you'd find in a nice motel except that there was no tub, just a shower. There was plenty of hot water.

The boat carried several hundred gallons of fresh water, but you could also use the lake water for things like washing your hands.

Shasta was clean then, though I don't know what it's like now. Basically, the house boat was configured to bring the "gray water" back to the dock and have it pumped out, but you also could throw a valve and just pump it overboard. We never did that, and didn't mind the trip back to the marina because we'd do shopping or whatever. But in a pinch, there is that capability.


The living room on the boat




I realize a houseboat is limited in the bodies of water it can be used on.  I don't expect you'd see one nosing out into the ocean. But it's incredibly compact and well designed, and has all the comforts of home. It was pretty cheap to operate, neither propane or diesel fuel consumption was very high over the period of a full week.  It was comfortable, and the lake was beautiful.  Nor was the boat prohibitively expensive. The model we rented went for less than $35,000 at the time, and the marina had a couple of used one's they were offering for $25,000 in pristine condition.

My problem here is that the only lake big enough to justify having a houseboat is all the way over in South Carolina. It's a three hour drive.  Our lakes in North Georgia are all artificial, built by putting a dam across the river. So they are narrow, shallow, and turn into virtual mud flats in summer.

I'm going to have one or the other  though.  Either a nice houseboat, or a nice truck with a good camper on the back.  Which one just depends on how things turn out when the wife retires in a few years.



37 comments:

  1. Harry - the pics of your mountain area are so beautiful - so is your house. you did real good as my father would say. i keep telling jam that he has to keep working because i want an 80ft yacht. he keeps trying to tell me that the river is too shallow for that size yacht. i don't care...i don't want to go anywhere in it - i just want to live in the river in a big, giant yacht - bahahahah! you seem to have really fond memories of your time renting the houseboat - you should rent one again with just you and your wife. thanks for sharing all of the pics - i love pics!!!

    sending much love! your friend,
    kymber

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    1. Kymber, I bet you would do good on a yacht. You and J should sail it down to the Caribbean. I went down into the Caribbean on an LST once, coming back from an exercise in the Med. We sailed into the harbor at Saint Thomas, and it was full of yachts. And most of them had beautiful women sun bathing stark naked on the sun decks. 350 Marines and a crew of about 250 sailors, all of whom had been at sea or in the field for two months. The Captain had to order the weather decks cleared to prevent a riot.

      I wrote an article on the houseboat as a bug out vehicle as a result of that trip, and pretty much paid for my share of it that way, so it was a fun trip and a profitable one.

      I have asked my wife about that, but when she is home she just wants to stay home. Also , strange for someone who was a Navy officer, she is afraid of boats and being on the water.

      I wrote you back after your very nice and much appreciated email. I hope it got to you ok.

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    2. Harry - i went to australia several times during my military career and saw some exotic stuff (especially for a girl from cape breton!)! at my last government job they sent me to australia for a conference and told me i could stop in hawaii afterwards and have a few days. hawaii was soooo beautiful - i stayed on the west side of the island during low tourist season - the place i stayed was amazing! but as jam and i had just bought our first house - there was no way that he could join me. i thoroughly enjoyed my 3 day/2 night stay there with almost no other visitors...but it sucked because jam wasn't with me. i still have regrets for not putting his flights on a credit card...that we could have paid off over a few years then. it sounds like the caribbean trip was like that for you.

      but honestly - i just want to drop a big, giant yacht in our river and live in it! i know about the article that you wrote and i am so glad that you had such a good time!

      i also understand your wife just wanting to be home when she is home - i feel the same. i love attending events in our community but if we never went to another event - it would just give me more time at home! your wife's fear about boats is a common one and is totally understandable.

      i got your email - thank you for that - you know that we both love to communicate with you - you have taught us so much! we will always love you for that!

      as for what happened in the caribbean - oh the stories that all military types can tell eh? i just read an article about CFS Alert - written by a journalist who went up for 2 weeks - ack! my blood was boiling. jam says "ya - ya - you military types want everything to stay the same as when you were in the military 135 yrs ago!". bahahahahahah! but man that article rankled me.

      holy moly. it must be the middle of the night. i am rambling on like captain crunch! now there's some high praise no?

      email reply coming soon. just know that i hear you, and am here for you! much love, my friend, much love! your friend,
      kymber

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    3. I spent three months in Hawaii, at Pearl Harbor mostly. I was staying on a ship at the naval base so I didn't have to pay for a hotel but I didn't get to stay in a nice hotel, either. I loved Hawaii, it was like the garden of Eden. But that was 1972, I don't know what it would be like now. Probably too many people. J is right, old military types do want things to stay like they were forever. I watch movies like "American Sniper" and nothing is familiar, not the uniforms, equipment, vehicles, nothing. But I recently bought a 26 episode set of DVD's about the Air Force, it was a series that was on in the late seventies, and I recognize everything in it. They even had one show where the protagonist was flying a T-34B, about fifteen minutes worth of footage. I flew that airplane a lot. But the show has T-38 Talons, F-106 interceptors, the F-104 Star Fighter, F-100 Super Sabre, F4 Phantom, and just about all the logistics and support aircraft of the day. I never flew any of those but I sure saw them on flight lines. Just like the other day I watched Top Gun again, and I remember going out to the flight line at Kirkland AFB in Albuquerque with a bunch of the other guys in my reserve unit when the first F-14 Tomcat to come in at that field was sitting on the flight line. We were utterly amazed. And now they are all gone, cut up to keep the Iranians from getting any parts off them except for a few in museums.

      The only time I ever saw my wife on a ship or anything resembling one was when we went to receptions on the U.S.S. Puget Sound, and it was always tied up in Gaeta, Italy on those occasions. She did go out on a party boat the staff rented and anchored off Ischia, in the bay of Naples. We swam back into the beach and she told me later she thought she was going to drown because she couldn't wear her glasses and couldn't see the beach. I had no idea she was scared, but we made it ok.

      Well, maybe you and J can save up the green (or whatever color Canadian money is now) and take a trip to Bermuda, or even Hawaii. He's making pretty good money, and your expenses are few. It's good you didn't use the credit cards. They are dangerous. I wouldn't have one at all except I need one to make plane reservations, buy stuff on line, that kind of thing.

      You, CC and I all have issues with sleeping. That's OK though, being asleep is like being dead, so it's wasted time.

      Glad the email got to you. I have been having some problems with email lately, people write me and say I haven't responded to their email, but I never got it. Or, maybe I am getting senile and I did but I don't remember. I wonder some times.....

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  2. No need to limit yourself to one or the other you can have both in a single vehicle.
    http://www.camillc.com/terrawind.htm

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    1. Well, if I was rich as Croesus I might could afford that rig, but to be honest I'd be scared to actually drive it into the water. If it sank or turned turtle, that would be all she wrote.

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    2. Hey Harry, yes I forgot to put the smiley face on my previous message. It was meant to be tongue in cheek. I think the price tag on that rig is over a million bucks. Yea I'd be afraid to drive it in the drink as well. looks awful top heavy.
      As for noisy generators. Due to the ground here in Maine being mostly granite all power lines are on poles. So come early or late winter when we get dumped with wet heavy snow followed by freezing rain it is common to loose power when the lines let go due to the weight build up. If it is spring and the melt is on I get 25 gallons of water a minute in my basement sump. No power = no pump. So if I don't have a generator I would be SOL in no time flat.When we first moved in to this house I was flat broke so I bought only what I could afford, a plain-Jane bare bones Craftsman 3400 watt that runs on a 2 stroke engine and it will rattle the teeth out of your skull. It is just painful. I've had to run it for 4 days straight on one occasion. Talk about driving you insane! I really wanted to kill the thing but there was no way unless I wanted the house to float away. Like CC suggested I bought a cheap muffler at tractor supply. One of those you would see sticking out the top of an old Farmall tractor. I rigged it up to the generator with one of those flex pipes and it cut the noise in half and made it just bearable. I did find that back pressure made it near impossible to start with it on the machine. I had to start the generator without it and then clip it on securing it with a wire just before it all got to got to handle. So adding a muffler works to quiet them but it has its tricks. If I did it again Id rig a bypass on it to make starting easier. Couple of years ago I bought a 5600 watt Generac at Home Depot when they had them on sale for about 600 $. Runs much quieter and you can't hear it a 100 yards away. Have not really had to run it for more than half a day since I got it but it is cheap insurance. Dad just ordered an 11 thousand watt stand-by that runs on propane. We are trying to get their house all squared away before his time runs out. The whole kit with the automatic switcher and all was under 3 grand. Real quiet too.
      http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200609034_200609034

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    3. I knew you were joking, no problem.

      My brother has one of those propane generators at his house in the Sierra Nevadas. It's absolutely the best thing since sliced bread. It just sits there, and if the power goes out, it kicks on without a break. It generates enough power to run everything in the house as normal, even the refrigerator and deep freeze don't draw it down enough to be an issue. But it was really expensive, way out of my price range.

      I know the gas generators run quieter but mine is a diesel because, like my truck, they run longer and don't wear out. The down side is, like my truck, they make an ungodly amount of noise. I think I will give the idea you and CC are proponents of a shot. We have a tractor dealership nearby and they ought tobe able to supply me a muffler. My diesel generator is electric start and works off a car battery, so I don't know if back pressure would be an issue for me or not. Only one way to find out.

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  3. Reminds me a lot of the RV I lived in some years back. Had everything an apartment has including a small bath tub. Just lacked the walking around space. I even considered living in a park model RV, but Minnesota doesn't mind if they are rented out as cabins for tourist ice fishermen or snowmobilers in the winter. They do get a bit testy though, as far as people living in one the year around.

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    1. What can they do about it if you want to live in one year round? How would they know? I know a guy who lives in an RV here. He is kind of strange, and just throws his trash out the door onto the ground. But he lives so far back in the woods nobody ever sees him. I know him because he's a Vietnam veteran, I met him at the gun club. Sometimes I go out there and drink a coke with him just to see how he's doing.

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  4. Love the pictures looks like a great holiday.
    As for your generator at your place, how about building a sound proof housing for it? Buildings somewhere slightly underground would help with the sound transference. On building sites over here they sometimes build straw bale walls around the generators as they really absorb the sound.

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    1. Kev, I tried to build field expedient mufflers like they used in the Marine Corps on small portable generators, but I never got them to work. Straw bales might work, but might they not be a fire hazard. The hot exhaust comes directly off the generator, I'd have to work some way to move it out of the hay bales or it would surely catch fire.

      When I first set it up, I put it inside one of the outbuildings, but it proved impossible to vent all the exhaust out of the building no matter how hard I tried. Now I run it on a pallet, set up on the ground level under the porch. My second floor is where the porch is.

      I know the engineers used oil drums to tone down the generators, they ran a hose from the generator to the drum. But that's all I know about it, and I have never been able to find plans on the internet.

      I got your other message and will touch base.

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  5. Hard to beat time on the water. Tennessee has some nice houseboat lakes.

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    1. They do. Lake Nikajack is not far off. About an hour by car. There's a good Marina there too.

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  6. This brought back great memories of a time in the distant past. I spent some time with family on a houseboat at lake Powell, a wonderful lake with many miles of secluded coves and wonderful beaches all to ourselves.

    So how exactly do southerners deal with rude people?
    --Troy

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    1. Fist in the face is the answer to that question. It's no coincidence that people are extremely polite here. Strangers talking to each other will call each other "sir." Rural Southerners are very touchy people, so you have to be careful not to put them in a position where they will lose face if they don't react violently to something you have done or said. It's been that way for a long time. There's a book by a guy named Bertram Wyatt-Brown called "Honor and Violence in the Old South." Not much has changed since the time he was writing about. The ethos is that if you get into a fight and no weapons are used, neither contender will press charges because that's cowardly and consigns you to the "white trash" or untouchable caste. In Georgia, you can't bring assault charges unless you can produce three witnesses who are not related to you in the second degree. I once sat on a jury where an assault case was being tried. There was no doubt that the individual had battered the other person, but his reasons were valid and the other individual was trashy. So we were able to find him guilty of a lesser charge of simple battery and he got off with a misdemeanor and an admonishment. But God is just and the other persons trailer accidentally burnt down that weekend, so they moved out of the county. Apparently they stored kerosene under the trailer and it caught fire somehow.

      Lake Powell sounds really nice. That's the kind of place I'd like to have a house boat. It's no fun if there are people on jet ski's roaring around, or other boats coming around with stereo's blaring.

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  7. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    Get the truck with the Camper 'Harry.

    Unless you had the Gulf of Mexico in your backyard (like I do) a house boat is not easily hidden from bad guys and requires copious amounts of fuel.

    The only time I would consider a houseboat is if I lived in an area with lots and lots of rivers, lakes, bays etc. That area would have to have lots of hidden spots to hide in and solar would be the way to go for power for a long term bad situation.

    I considered a 35 foot (or longer) sailboat. That would be the best way to go. Run sails and solar and not use fuel for a longer term plan. The downside to that is I cannot run a sail boat alone. I would need a crew and of course that complicates things greatly (relying on other humans)

    Running off and hiding in the boonies with the possums is the best idea. Bad guys don't like the woods.

    One idea is buy a somewhat secluded area and bury cans of 'Armadillo Paste" there and have a pre-staged backup spot.

    Hey Harry something important for your generator.

    Weld or attach an exhaust flange to the exhaust on the genny. Next get a flexible metal exhaust hose and attach the exhaust hose to the exhaust flange (on the genny). Then get a cheap automobile muffler and attach it to the hose and greatly reduce the sound profile of that genny.

    'By the way. I totally dig the Rebel flag on the boat.

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    1. CC, that actually might work with the generator. I already have an exhaust flange because it used to run through the wall of a building here.

      Strangely, since we were motoring around a lake in California, I thought the Confederate Battle Flag might attract undo negative attention. Not that it worried me overly much. But instead people reacted very positively to it. I think they were mind boggled. But although my brothers live out west now, they were both born in the South and our family roots go back to 1742 and North Carolina in this country.

      Actually, although I wrote the article on the houseboat as bug out vehicle to make a little money, I was thinking it would just be nice to have one to live on part of the time. As Six Bears remarked, there are some nice lakes not too far from me over in Tennessee. I'm used to thinking about Lake Burton in South Carolina because my wife teaches there, but there's a big lake with many small , forested inlets and secluded beaches about two thirds of the way to Chattanooga from here.

      I like sailing but I don't think I would want to live on sail boat, and as you say, you need some people who know what they are doing to operate a sail boat large enough to be comfortable for , say, six people.

      Before you go tooling off in the blue water in a sailboat, be sure to check out Robert Redford's movie about sailing. I think it is called "All is lost" or something like that. I don't think that ocean environment is for me.

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  8. Harry - From the pics it looks like you had a good time, and it sounds like a lot of fun. Practically though? Leaving a houseboat moored somewhere for possibly months at a time of no supervision on your part - would it get broken into whilst you're not there?

    Reckon a camper van is probably better - and it will allow you to visit far more many places. Who knows, perhaps you could tie a small craft to the top, to use when you stop near a large enough body of water... ;)

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    1. Dani, if I wind up moving to Florida when my wife retires, I'll need some way to get free of the condominium and have some quiet time. A nice houseboat would fit the bill, and the winters down there are not harsh so I could use it year round. Of course, now that Florida is infested with Burmese Pythons maybe that isn't such a good idea. It would not be fun to have a 16 foot python come aboard in the dead of night!

      I read "Off Grid" and "Recoil" and they always feature these super camper/truck rigs, all tricked out with everything you want and ready for off road. I can't afford one of those but it gives me some good ideas. I usually have a camera in my truck, and when I see a rig I really like at Walmart or where ever, I take a picture for future reference. My wife said she wouldn't mind a camper/truck combination but she doesn't want a houseboat.

      Lots of people do carry a little canoe or something. I think if I had a big truck / camper combination I would tow a small Jeep like a Wrangler behind it, so I could park the more cumbersome vehicle and still be mobile.

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  9. My husband's family always had boats, one being a house boat down at the Lake of the Ozarks. By the time I was around they had cruisers and finally brought it up here on the Mississippi. They really enjoyed them. I get sort of motion sick so I don't know if I could stay on a boat for more than a ride but the houseboat idea looks good. We take my husbands jon boat up to a sand or gravel beach on the Meramec River then make a day of it. It might take me a beer before I get in the water and forget about all the nasty fish that might bump into me! Then I plop my fold down chair right into it and sit up to my waist in the cool water, the kids swim around and play beach games and we either bring a picnic or bbq hot dogs on the beach. Lots of fun.

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    1. That does sound like fun, Kathy. In our lake here, there is a wide end down by the dam. There are little islands out there, where you can pull up in your boat, and make a fire. Then you can swim and picnic and as long as nobody else comes along the whole island is yours.

      I was swimming out at our lake years ago and a big fish of some kind came up and started biting kids in the water. It didn't have teeth but it scared them and it looked like a scene from Jaws with kids running out of the water and mom's gathering them up. I think maybe it was a bass.

      I had a small sail boat when we first moved here, but I gave it to my brother in law. He lived near a big lake, and our lake had no Marina at the time, the only boat ramp was way down on the narrow end, and you had to paddle up to the other end to get where it was wide enough to sail. It was only a little Sunfish but I enjoyed it when we lived at the beach.

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  10. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)

    I went ahead and ordered a fancy antenna for the radio. I got the Max 2000 with ground plane kit, 24' foot fiberglass antenna. It cost me more than I wanted to spend but after talking to some people and doing some research I figured what the hell. Its not like I spend my money on wine, women and song.

    I have that dipole antenna which now is only four foot off the ground. If I raise it. I will have to do something extreme like build two masts and set the dipole between the masts.
    If I am going through that much effort, I may as just buy a really good antenna (No Half Measure's, Right)

    The past few nights had a lot of atmospheric problems but I did hear a transmission from Hawaii.
    Last night atmospherics were good and I heard conversations from Nebraska, South Carolina, Alabama and others. Im getting a lot from states east of the Mississippi???

    I guess its this low hanging dipole?

    I guess also I would be a lot better off on a wonderful mountaintop but I live in sea level, salt water swamp.

    Big weekend (stay off the roads) every Tom, Dick, Harry, Jose' and Ali Baba Ackbar (You see I am being 'Inclusive) is hitting the roads and coming to the damn beach.

    'Bring us your unwashed, unshaved masses. Bathe in our pristine waters yearning to be free of the enslavement of clothing and deodorant"

    "Drink all the alcohol you can. Leave broken glass and beer cans on the beach. Burn wood pallets, We really dig rusty nails in our feet to accompany the broken shards of glass that can't be beat.


    If I got out it will be early in the morning. Too many idiots, too many drunkards, and too many gawker tourists. The morning hours are safe because most tourists are still in bed with hangovers.


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    1. Glad you are getting your system put together and going top flight. DX is a great way to spend long, cold winter nights if you don't spend your money on women! ; - )

      I understand completely about the tourist earwigs coming and infesting where you live. This will be a bad weekend up here, and I will spend the holiday with one ear on the scanners, listening for fire reports. The roads will be impassable and the stores will be full of people in Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts and Jerusalem Cruisers.

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  11. That trip appeared to be a lot of fun. Its good to travel like that and catch up with family. Mom and her sisters used to travel to a destination much the same way, they figured they may as well have fun at the same time as visiting.

    We don't have many houseboats down here, like you, the nearest lake (Falcon) along the Texas / Mexico border is too far away to commute without leaving the boat there. Renting it seems like the perfect solution.

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    1. Renting a boat is probably a good idea. Especially since if my wife likes it, she might be more amenable to the idea of buying a used houseboat if we go to Florida.

      That was the last big trip I made with my brothers. We are all getting long in the tooth now, and the logistics of traveling across the country are more difficult since air travel has become so uncomfortable and unreliable.

      My mom still travels across country on the AMTRAK train, and she's 87 now. The railway accidents don't seem to phase her in the least.

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  12. Harry,

    Check this generator out, this is something my husband and I need to investigate further. How awesome is this? http://www.grideraser.com/
    A bit pricey but maybe worth it....


    This trip you took with your brother sounds like fun. I'm not sure I would like to live full time on a houseboat. As for a travel trailer, I could live full time on it as long as I had an outside area where I could create another living area. Like an outdoor kitchen/porch.

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    1. Sandy, I went and looked at that equipment. Out where you live, where it is flat, that would work great. My problem is that I live just below the topographical crest on the mountain, and my mountain is surrounded by higher mountains on all sides. So when I built my off grid power system in 1999, I did not take into account (and the people selling me all the gear did not see fit to mention) that especially in winter, even with my huge bank of Siemens solar cells, I wouldn't get enough sunlight on the panels per day to keep the batteries charged. So essentially, the Trane Inverter and the solar panels were a waste of time, as I wound up operating the generator whenever I needed to go off the grid power. I think the gear illustrated in the link you sent me would be top flight for someone who could get solar rays on the panels most of the day.

      That was the last big trip my brothers and I made, and it was a lot of fun. My brother R used to plan these things. We went camping in the Oregon High Desert, flew in a hot air balloon in New Mexico, did this boat trip in California. But now we are all older and don't get out so much, we tend to stay around home. My youngest brother T has an off shore capable boat and goes out in the Pacific off the Oregon Coast but that's not my idea of a good time so I have passed on those little jaunts.

      The house boat was really comfortable and had a great kitchen, you would like it though I don't know about living on it full time. That might be different. I want a truck/camper rig that will go off road if I get one, because I'm not going to stay in state parks and have people with $200,000 coach RV's stringing christmas lights in the trees next to my camping spot. ;-)

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  13. Hey Harry! I know I have been away for a bit...but all is well here. Just been busy. We got that same mass of cool air, but not too much rain, so darn dry over here. Of all days for it to get cool and breezy though, Our eldest son is on a school reward trip to a water park..

    looks like you and your brother all had a blast on the houseboat. Before kids ( B.K) Senior and I had a 18 foot boat we took out on the river to fish. Even put it in downtown on 4th of July to watch fireworks. We had so much fun, and I really miss it.

    Hope all is well on your end... Ttyl

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    1. Glock Mom, it's strange but last night I was sitting out on the balcony of my apartment here, where the view is best, and wondering if something was wrong down there in South Carolina. Senior Chief doesn't get on the net all that often but you are good about updates. I was afraid maybe a kid was sick or something. I was going to wait a week and then leave a comment asking if all was well, even though I know that irks some people and wasn't sure if I would be a pest by doing that.

      I'm glad you are all well. Sorry the cooler weather came down when your boy was at the water park. At least it has reduced the humidity and given us some nice weather for enjoying being outside.

      I used to have a little sailboat and really had fun with it, but I gave it to my brother in law when we moved here. Our lake is not good for sailing.

      An 18 foot boat is pretty nice. I would like to see fireworks from a boat sometime, who knows maybe I will if we move to Florida.

      All is well here. My wife is finished with school. We were going to try to run down to Tybee Island but her sister is going to L.A. for a week to visit her son, so my wife has to stay over there and take care of her mom until my sister in law gets back. Then when the sister in law returns, my wife is going up North to stay a while with the kids. I guess if I go to Tybee it will be me and the two ferrets.

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  14. Hey Harry,

    (captaincrunch)


    I read what you wrote to Kymber about having sleep problems.

    I don't know about you, but I sleep in 2-3 hour intervals a couple of times a night at best.
    I take comfortable naps in the drivers seat of my Toyota Four Runner (when I am parked) I got the A/C going, doors locked. 1911 three inches away from my right hand and my head's hanging off to the side and snoring, parked under a shade tree out at an interstate rest stop.

    Another good spot to nap is in back somewhere's out of the way at a Walmart parking lot. After about a 20-30 shutdown. I got out and get that good coffee at Mcdonalds for a $1.10.

    I don't know what it is, but between 5 and 7 PM, I got to find a spot to close my eyes and shutdown for 10 to 30 minutes and then Im ok.

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    1. I've been an insomniac for more than thirty years. At night I have all these monitors running, so the slightest thing outside wakes me up and I can't go to sleep again. But if I don't run the monitors, I can't sleep.

      I'd never be able to sleep somewhere like a parking lot. When my wife and I go to Chattanooga (which we haven't done much of lately) I can't sleep at all in the motel and wind up reading all night or listening to my radio with one ear phone on, and the other on the side of my head so I can still hear.

      Sounds like nap time between 5 and 7. I take naps in the afternoon sometimes, half awake and half asleep.

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  15. Lovely pics Harry, that looked like an amazing week. I'm glad you had a great time. I like the idea of a houseboat although I've never been on one. Something about spending some time on a quiet water, living a simple life... yes, that speaks to me volumes. :)

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  16. Kamyria, the whole trip was very pleasant. The lake and it's surrounding terrain was beautiful. It was comfortable and there was a feeling of complete independence and freedom, though I suppose we did still have to go to the marina for logistical support every once in awhile. I really enjoyed the whole experience.

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  17. That sounds like it was a very fun trip. The other day when they were near a body of water where the rich people have houseboats by their mansions. Walker was quite upset that we do not have a houseboat. I would vote for a 50 ft sailboat but kiddo and I share the same sentiments. Unfortunately there is a small consideration of money. A guy could have a lot of fun in a big lake or reservoir with a house boat.

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    1. It was a great trip. A big change of scene, and a different life style. It was probably the last time we three brothers will all be together, as I don't plan to do any more air line flying and I have no plans to drive out to Oregon. They haven't been back here in about 20 years.

      I like sailboats but the one's I've been on, which I grant you were not the expensive ones, weren't that comfortable. The houseboat was just like home.

      If there was still water in them, some of those big lakes out in the desert like Lake Havasu would be perfect. You could go down to the far end, be in the desert and completely alone. Like you, I have to take money into consideration, but I think I can afford one or the other, the boat or the camper rig. I know I can't swing both, but I don't think I'd want to have to take care of both.

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