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.
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 houseboating 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.
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.