We camped here for two nights a couple of weeks ago to test out our ability to live in the comfortable style to which we are accustomed without electric or water hookups. We were only a half hour drive from Sue’s parents house so if it got too cold or the battery died we could bail out easily. As I posted then, the two night trial worked out fine, we had plenty of water and electricity. The only flaw we discovered was that we wanted to shower – but outdoors, not in our tiny cramped bathroom where the toilet takes a shower along with you. We did shower outside by pouring water on ourselves with a saucepan but that was awkward and wasted a lot of water.
This time we stayed four nights to better test how long our water and battery charge would last. We also bought a shower head (gotta love Amazon Prime) on a 3′ hose that attaches to the kitchen faucet to try out.
Here’s the picnic table cloth doing double duty as our shower curtain with the new sprayer inside.
We chose the same site (#7) as we had last time. We liked the space and privacy plus some low growing palm trees added a nice tropical touch.
Monday afternoon we just chilled out at the campsite with an early evening stroll (1.5 miles) around the two campground loops followed by dinner at the picnic table. Daylight savings time just started and it is nice to be eating outside in the twilight rather than pitch dark.
Tuesday afternoon we had lunch at Sharkys on Venice Beach and then enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon beach walk.
Wednesday we had company. Sue’s parents drove over to have lunch at our campsite and get a little taste of our camping life. They got a good taste as lunch started sunny and hot but an hour later we were scrambling to get out of the rain. They left and we relaxed in the trailer for a while until the sun came back out. The afternoon concluded with a trip to Vino Loco in Englewood to have a glass of wine and to restock the trailer’s wine cellar.
We had more rain Wednesday night and Thursday dawned blustery and cool. We went out for breakfast at the interestingly named “Food Is Love” restaurant. It should have been named “Food Is Sort Of Interesting”. The service was very attentive but the food was forgettable. Sue got an undercooked quiche which was replaced by cheese grits with one little dribble of cheese and cold grits.
The afternoon warmed up to the mid-60s so we decided to hike across the park to the Myakka River. It looked about six miles on the marked trail but the aerial photo in the ranger’s office showed a shortcut that would cut the distance in half. Armed with a ‘not to scale’ cartoon map the ranger did with Microsoft Paint and a phone photo of the aerial map we set out. Of course we couldn’t find the shortcut and followed the marked trail for a couple of miles before I got the inspiration to fire up Google Maps on my phone. This worked great, the satellite view showed all the fire break trails and of course a little dot where we were. We saved a little distance getting to the river and were able to walk back to our camp in almost a straight line. Total hike 4.5 miles. I’m going to remember the Google Maps trick.
Thursday night was a good test of our cool weather tolerance. The low was forecast to be in the low 40s. The actual temp when we left for breakfast at 8:30 Friday morning was 45. Sleeping wasn’t too bad, we have plenty of blankets but getting up in the cold was unpleasant. The car heater thawed us out by the time we drove the three miles to Englewood to have breakfast at the Mango Bistro. They don’t open until 9:00 but let us in and gave us a cup of coffee and a table in a sunny window at a quarter to. The omelets were good enough to make us forget the Food Is Love meal the day before.
After another lazy morning we decamped for our last visit of the winter to Sue’s parents in Port Charlotte.
Living-off-the-grid test results: we camped for four days and one hour and used 53% of our battery capacity (batteries last longer if they aren’t deeply discharged very often so 53% is about the practical limit of out time to go without recharging.). Also interesting, we used 1.8 KWH over the four days, which costs about 20 cents to buy from Detroit Edison. We used about 30 of our 35 gallons of fresh water and we each took three (quick, no hot water) showers.
We have really enjoyed the privacy and solitude of primitive camping and want to do more of it. To that end we’ve decided to add a solar panel that should approximately double our camping time before plugging in the battery charger and a miniature hot air furnace that runs on propane. UPS will be making frequent parts deliveries to Ami’s house next week so I can install the new systems during our ten day Enterprise visit before we head out west March 31.