On The Road Again … The WanderLust Adventure 2012… Begins!

Well, after about 6 months and a week (not that I’m counting days…) since my last really good “WanderLust Adventure,” I hit the road today at noon and started heading South and West of Central Kentucky…… my goal is to make it to San Diego in the next month or so…?  I don’t know the exact route but would like to go far enough South to stay warm (Interstate 10 maybe?).  Since my return from a job in Africa almost a year ago (March, 1st,  2011) I have based myself in Central Kentucky on a 20 acre piece of property I own with my brother.  Over these past 11 months,  I have really, really had a wonderful time.  I managed to take a trip to Greece with my Mom, spend a week in Florida kayaking and fishing with an old buddy and spend 3 months on the road last Summer making it to Northern California and back to Kentucky!  I also visited with family more than any other time in the last 25 years.  I managed to visit my mother 5 times in Cleveland and my other brother Scott twice, in Michigan (playing Uncle Buck for a few days for my niece and nephew).  I am happy to report that my Brothers, their Families and my Mother are all doing well!


Below, as you can see,  I am “on the Road Again…. I couldn’t wait to get on the road again….” (Sing it!)


    



My first stop on “WanderLust Adventure 2012” was the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  I have driven past it a 1/2 dozen times over the last 7 years and decided that today was the day to see it!  The Museum was amazing, everything you ever wanted to know about the Chevy Corvette is housed there!  I highly recommend a few hour visit!   

Below, after a visit to the Corvette Meusem, I wandered into Downtown Bowling Green for a walk around historic Fountain Square.  I didn’t know this, but… today I learned that Bowling Green was the Capital of the Kentucky Confederacy.  





After a short 140 miles of driving today… I think that’s enough…. time to find a safe and secure boon-docking location.  This adventure will be slow and steady….. Boy I love the road!
  

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The Little Manatee River and a Greasy Taco Shop…

Today I went for a paddle on the “Little Manatee River” near Sarasota, Florida.  I parked my truck at the “Canoe Outpost” located just South West of the junction of the Little Manatee River and HW 301.  The “Canoe Outpost” is a full service Canoe and Kayak business.  They rent all sorts of boats and offer pick-up services down river to get you back to your vehicle.  There is also a campground with showers and bathrooms if you want to overnight on the river.  Mike and Brian, two “Canoe Outpost” employees I met were very helpful.  Thanks guys!  Since I have my own kayak, I only needed a ride from the end of my paddle back to my truck, $20.00 was the cost, fair enough!  Unfortunately I didn’t see any Manatees, but it was still a beautiful way to spend the day!  The 5 mile paddle took just under 2 hours .  The river depth is a bit low now, normal for Winter months,  resulted in the need to drag my Kayak over 1/2 a dozen sandbars.  The tranquility of a lazy river was only temporarily disturbed by the buzz of 3 air-boats taking beer drinking tourists down river.  After a nice paddle what’s a guy to do…?  Eat Mexican Food!  I like greasy-spoon type restaurants and “Julia’s Tacos” certainly answers the mail.  I was the only “Gringo” in the place but it was full and that usually means the food is good, which it was!  Time to clean and re-pack my boat….. so many rivers……    

Above and below, the lazy “Little Manatee River.”

 

Above, Shelia (my kayak’s name) takes a break from a lazy day floating down the river.
Below, the air-boats jet by on their way down river, man are those things LOUD!

Above, even though I didn’t see any manatees this time, the sign above proves that they are in the river!
Below,  “The Canoe Outpost” bus.  If you want to use their services, the info in the below picture will help you contact them!

Below, “The Canoe Outpost” office, complete with everything you need to spend a great day on the “Little Manatee River.”

Above, my tasty lunch of chicken tostadas at “Julia’s Tacos.”
Below,  “Julia’s Tacos” located on HW 674 about 3 miles East of the junction of HW 301.

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Mother Nature is Boss.

Yesterday my part of Kentucky got hit hard with a thunderstorm.  It was an exceptionally hot and humid morning with patches of clouds.  In the early afternoon the storm hit from the West.  It took down trees and limbs around town and knocked out power to a few neighborhoods for a couple of hours.  I got hit hard with rain and strong winds.  After getting hit for 15 mins with horizontal rain, I decided to head to my brother’s house (with basement) in case of a tornado.  It got me thinking about a tornado shelter?  I guess my chances of getting hit by a tornado are about the same as me seeing the “Hillbilly Beast.”   The half-man half-ape like creature is reported to live close to my farm?  A few years ago the TV program Monster-Quest even filmed an episode here… gee maybe some of the local-yokels have been hitting the bourbon too hard here in Central Kentucky.  Ok, getting back to a tornado shelter, maybe a small underground shelter for a few people would be a good idea?  I need to think about that…?  One of the benefits of a hard rain is that it fills my rain collection water tank quickly.

Below, after the rains a double rainbow appeared.

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Sun Oven, Cooking with Solar.

I bought a “Sun Oven” before my recent trip out West.  It’s pretty big, so I decided not to take it in the Truck Camper this trip.  I have not been able to give it a test run until now!  We have had plenty of sunshine here in Kentucky this past week so I decided to give the “Sun Oven” a try.  Now, I need to be honest.   When I owned a home with a huge kitchen, I probably didn’t use my conventional oven 25 times in 4 years.  So I don’t claim to be a “chef” or even a “skilled short-order cook” for that matter.  I thought the “Sun Oven” would be a nice addition to an “off-grid set up.”  It was in the low 90s and partly sunny at around 2:00 PM when I set up the Sun Oven to cook some “Martha White’s” cornbread.  The oven was 100 degrees when I took it out of the shed and in about 20 mins it hit 250 degrees.  I thought… cool…, this thing will be up to the 450 degrees I need (according to the package) in no time.  Well then the clouds moved in and stayed around.  The oven never broke 250 degrees due to the cloud cover, but I was not deterred and decided to continue my imitation of “Julia Child with a Sun Oven.”  I mixed the cornbread, greased the pan and pre-heated it as the instructions called for…. then I waited, and waited and waited.  20 mins at 450 degrees became an hour at 275 degrees.  Eventually the cornbread looked pretty good so I gave it a try.  It tasted pretty good but crumbled easily!  I ate the entire pan!  I definitely needed a hotter oven but the sun didn’t cooperate!  This is a great example of the challenges with Solar Cooking.  Bottom-line, you need the sun to shine!  I think before I try Beef Wellington in the “Sun Oven,” I will make sure there’s not a cloud in the sky!  Shine sun, shine!

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Working with Your Hands and Doing for Yourself.

My father was an attorney and a mechanical engineer and worked as a patent attorney for over 35 years until he passed away in the late 1990s.  He made money by using his brain and his knowledge.  But his true love was woodworking.  I remember one conversation I had with him years ago as a teenage boy.  I asked why he liked to make furniture so much, and he said something like…

“It’s a great feeling when you create something with your own hands and can look at it, you get a real sense of accomplishment.”

I never forgot that, and now after working on my property for the last 5 years,  building structures, logging trees, making stone retaining walls and numerous other projects with “my own hands,” I know what my father was trying to tell me!  When you can look at something and know that you made it, it feels good!  It might not be perfect, someone else might be able to do a better job but you did it!  You learn so much when you do it yourself too!  We have become a society of “quick-fixes” and have someone do everything for us.  It used to be common for homeowners to do much of their own work themselves, now most people call someone else to do everything.  I have decided to go in the other direction, I am trying to learn to do for myself!  Change my own oil on the car, change the shocks on a car, cut my own firewood,  build my own sauna, build my own water collection system… etc…. etc….

In the next year, in between travels (remember this is a Wanderlust-Blog) I will update you with projects on the “off the grid Kentucky Farm.”

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Off Grid… Think Water and Power first!

Probably the 2 most difficult questions with any off grid living set-up are,

-“how will I get my water?”

and

-“how will I get power?”

-For both questions there are numerous answers / options;

Water.  One can use a well, truck water in or collect rain water.  I decided to collect rain water as the primary means to supply my water, and this year it has been working because of so much rain.  In a drought, I have a well drilled that can provide water.   After the water is available, you need a system of filtration or treatment.  For all water other than drinking I use chlorine, for drinking I use filtration.

Power.  One can use solar, wind or generators (the principle 3).  I have been using a generator for my very small energy needs. I want to add solar, that will probably be my next project.   Heating and cooling are the two biggest energy hogs, as they tend to use the most power.  For heat, I have a wood burning stove, for cooling I sit in the shade!  Not too long ago nobody had A/C…. it sure is nice to have A/C but not an absolute necessity!

Above, the trailer with a small Norwegian wood burning stove for heat.

Below, time to cut some hay!  The newest addition to my off grid Kentucky Farm, a 1987 Ford Tractor.

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“Buy Land, they not making anymore of it.” Mark Twain.

I bought 20 acres in rural Kentucky in 2002.  I then built a big home close to, but not on, the 20 acres.  As some of you know, last year I down-sized from the big house, sold it, put things in storage and moved into Bertha the Bigfoot Truck Camper.  I recently finished working a year in Africa and more recently I finished a 3 month, 6200 mile trip in the Camper.  
I am now back in Kentucky, visiting family and friends for a few weeks and working on some off the grid projects on the property.  The property is probably 10 acres wooded and 10 acres pasture.  The pasture was used for dairy cows by the previous owner so the soil is rich and black!  The wooded area is a mix of trees, cedar, oak, walnut, maple and locus to name a few.  I have seen, fox, coyote, plenty of deer, raccoons, owls and hawks on the property. 
For the last few years I have been building a small recreation area on the property and doing some farming.  
Below, Bertha is parked next to a BBQ area with a water collection system off the roof.  I have a few tanks to store the water for plant irrigation and I filter it for drinking.  In a trailer (not in view) I can store all the landscape and farming equipment I need.
Below, my off grid laundry solution, “Wonder Wash.”  It works!  For small loads it’s great.  I have been washing my cloths daily in the evening and hanging them on the line.  With the “Wonder Wash” I can wash about 3 lbs of cloths with a quart of water.

Above, The clean cloths hanging on the “line.”

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ELK Steak, It’s What’s For Dinner……

A friend of mine from Prescott Valley shot an Elk last season and was kind enough to share some steaks with me this week.  I took the steaks and grilled them the next day, boy were they good!  If I didn’t know ahead of time that I was eating Elk, I would have thought I was eating the tastiest beef steak around.  It was great, no gamey taste!

Does anyone else like Elk?  I would definitely eat another steak or two.  As a matter of fact, I might even try to go hunting myself.  When I was living in Kentucky I was invited to attend a “Beast Feast” at a local Baptist Church.  I tried just about everything there, from Alligator to Bear.  I didn’t really like the bear, a little to tough for me.  But I was pleasantly surprised at the wide variety of wild game people had prepared.  Probably my weirdest meal I ever ate was Guinea Pig in Cusco, Peru.  It was a “delicacy” according to the waiter but I think it was perhaps the worst meat I have ever eaten!

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