Finding Treasures

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Today we have been going through some items from our house. We scanned the documents we used to keep in a filing cabinet. We will keep these documents in Evernote, which is a very handy website for organizing things. This way we feel everything is more secure and also frees up space for us in the Airstream.

We bought a new scanner just for this very purpose. It’s a portable scanner and Airstream friendly! The Epson DS-30, we haven’t used it enough to say whether it’s good or bad. But so far so good!

Upon our going through these ancient files, I came across this hilarious artifact from Anthony’s childhood.

 

– Julie, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

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Cooking for $0.34 an hour

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During our South Dakota blizzard experience I commented on the great benefit of propane. The problem with propane is it’s the one utility that has no “shore” option. It’s finite and periodically needs to be refilled.

Two 30 lb tanks last a long time. For 80 days of fall and early winter we have been cruising around the midwest. So far we have refilled five 30 lb tanks. On average that’s 16 days per tank. During the summer you get far more mileage. During the winter, a lot less.

Now, whether or not you regard propane as expensive is a matter of perspective. We don’t think it is given we now have no utility bills. But it is marginally inconvenient to fill. So generally we want it to last in order to reduce trips to a propane refill station. Some advice – a propane refill at a KOA is about 2x the price of a Pilot/Flying J. Get the Pilot app to see where propane is available.

Obviously how much propane you use depends on how you use it. For example, we have an electric heater that serves as our primary heat source, with the furnace as a supplemental. We also have a fantastic electric blanket on the bed that keeps us toasty and lets us turn the the air heat down. Likewise, when docked the fridge and water heater run off shore power.

In cold weather (something below freezing) you won’t be able to eliminate using the furnace entirely, no matter how effective your electric heating options. The furnace alone heats the holding tanks. So you need to run it at some level to prevent them from freezing. The alternative is to electrically heat the tanks which is a science project we’re not interested in pursuing.

But assuming you can get your propane heating requirement to a minimum, what else do you need propane for? Cooking.

I explored whether it would be worth getting an electric stove top. They’re cheap, so why not? Storage space – specifically convenient space. The always-problem of having stuff an Airstream. It would be inconvenient have to open up boxes under the couch every time we cook. And then put it all away again afterwards.

I don’t think it is worth it. Here’s the math.

Assumptions:

  • The Airstream stove has three burners. One primary and two secondary.
  • The main burner puts out 9,000 BTUs per hour at full blast.
  • A 30 lb tank of propane (7 gallons) contains enough propane to deliver 650,000 BTUs.

Math:

  • 650,000 / 9,000 = 72 hours of cooking.
  • 72 x 2 tanks = 144 hours of cooking.
  • At the time of writing, propane costs about $3.50 a gallon.
  • Each 30 lb tank holds 7 gallons.
  • $3.50 x 7 = $24.50 per tank.
  • $24.50 x 2 = $49 for a two-tank refill.

So:

  • $49 / 144 hours of cooking = $0.34 per hour cooking cost.
  • And cooking for two hours per day gives us 72 days of cooking per refill.

No, it’s not worth lugging around an electric stove.

Fresh Air

While sitting out an ice storm is probably not the best time to think about opening windows. But I have been planning this post for a while so here goes.

We know it’s important to have ventilation in RVs primarily to eliminate moisture which will lead to mold. What I hadn’t really thought about was air quality.

Around May of this year I started geeking out with some fitness tracking devices, including the Withings Smart Body Analyzer. One of its functions is to continuously monitor air quality (CO2 levels specifically).

The results are quite interesting. Screenshot below taken from the Withings iPhone app showing a 24 hour period in our Airstream. Notice the CO2 level falls during the day, when we open a window or two, and rises during the night when we tend to close windows as the temperature drops.

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Thanks to the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, I learned “NIOSH considers that indoor air concentrations of carbon dioxide that exceed 1,000 ppm are a marker suggesting inadequate ventilation.” During the night we have reached twice that level.

The temperature range is a bit off. We store it on the floor at the back of thr Airstream so it’s representing floor temperature back there rather than the air temperature in the trailer (about 10 degrees higher).

– Anthony, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

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. . . everywhere we go!

We are currently in Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas. A beautiful park and I think we have it all to ourselves – probably because we’re in the middle of an ice storm.

We have a knack for bringing bad weather with us. Today we lost shore power around 08:00. Shore water is frozen so we’ll attempt a de-thaw shortly. We call this “involuntary boondocking.”

We’ll be exploring the park. Keep an eye on our Flickr feed.

– Anthony, Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas