January 7, 2015 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

A Few Birds and a Lot of Lettuce

I took an afternoon drive out to explore the Mittry Lake boondocking area to see if I might want to move down there rather than do another 14 day, $40 stay here at the LTVA. On the way to the Mittry Lake Road I decided to go check out the Laguna Dam Road that leads into a really tiny golf course alongside the dam and the Hidden Shores Village RV Park.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Vermillion flycatcher
Vermillion flycatcher

I encountered this bright little Vermillion flycatcher hopping from post to post on the lookout for dinner on the edge of the golf course. Also was about to get a nice shot of a meadowlark hunting in the short grass of the golf course when he was scared off by an errant drive. I definitely will have to come back in here early some morning as there appear to be a few colorful birds hanging around this tiny oasis.

It is about a 5 or 6 mile drive down a wide, but washboarded, dusty dirt road to the area where boondocking is permitted along the road and along the shore of Mittry Lake. It looks like all the good sites are occupied that I could see, though there may be more setback from the road that I did not explore. Guess I will just stay where I am here in the LTVA while I have more solar work and general maintenance work done on the motorhome.

Happy Campers?
Happy Campers?

A couple of “happy campers”

Speaking of the Imperial Dam LTVA, I ran into these two happy campers ( I am assuming they are happy, after finding shade in the treeless desert on a rather warm day ) on my way down to check out the “ Liberry “ in the LTVA, an old Airstream trailer, loaded to the rafters with paperbacks, sorted by genre and author. On the honor system you are allowed to take out up to 6 books and return them when done, nothing to sign, no agreement to even bring them back, something you don’t encounter everyday.

Desolate and visually unappealing as this place may be, after 2 weeks here, it is starting to grow on me a little. It is quiet, the people are almost universally considerate, the dump station/ water filling/ trash facility, that I had occassion to use is well laid out and convenient, and the $40 for 14 days is not too bad a price either. My only complaint at this time is that I had to take in my hummingbird feeders after the bees discovered them finally and completely took them over, doing away with my hummingbird photography.

After driving through the Mittry Lake boondocking area, I decided to keep going down the road to see where it came out, rather than backtracking the 6 miles of dusty road I came in on. The road becomes the paved Laguna Dam Road not too far south of Mittry Lake and that becomes Avenue 7E that connects with Route 95 on the east side of Yuma.

Yuma agricultural fields
Yuma agricultural fields

This road took me through a small portion of the extensive agricultural fields in the area and I had the chance to take a few photos of the lettuce fields,

Baby lettuce
Baby lettuce

from new seedlings,

Why the mighty Colorado River no longer makes it to the ocean
Why the mighty Colorado River no longer makes it to the ocean

to established fields being heavily watered,

Lettuce harvest assembly line
Lettuce harvest assembly line

to a crew harvesting an older crop, and all the stages in between as the plantings are staggered to produce continuous harvests.

Lettuce harvest assembly line
Lettuce harvest assembly line

A colorful scene, might just become a watercolor some day!

Great egret patrolling the lettuce fields
Great egret patrolling the lettuce fields

Along this road, I also encountered pest control measures employed by these huge farms, both amongst the crops,

Snowy egrets
Snowy egrets

and along the irrigation canals that border these fields.

My blog posting problems finally resolved?

As of this post, I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com

 

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

January 6, 2015 Imperial Dam LTVA, California

hair

A New Battery Monitoring System

Today I had a new battery monitoring system installed in the motorhome. When I had the system installed two years ago, the installer assured me that all I needed to control the system and prevent damage to the batteries was the Magnum remote that he installed with the Magnum inverter/charger.

Not being any wiser, I assumed he knew what he was talking about, turns out that probably, at least as far as battery monitoring goes, he didn’t. For two years I have struggled with what I kind of knew, was a problem with my system. The remote control would show a full charge for my bank of 4 six volt batteries, and then I could run them down to a voltage reading of 12.2 volts ( 50% drained )  with just an evenings worth of computer or television use, and that just didn’t seem right. Not wanting to drain my batteries below 50%, in order to prolong their life, I would have to go and start up the generator to recharge them. By all my primitive calculations, it seemed that the 220 amp hours ( from my 4 six volt batteries, 4 X 110 amp hours each = 440 amp hours X 50 % = 220 amp hours ) I had available to use with fully charged batteries should have allowed me a couple of days of computer and television use before depleting the batteries 50%.

Plus, while the remote showed that I was getting battery charging out of my 300 watts of solar panels up on the roof, it really didn’t seem to amount to much.

kit

So today I had a new Magnum battery monitoring kit installed. This works with the previously installed remote and displays very accurate readings of the State of Charge of the battery bank, expressed as a % from 0 to 100%, as well as how many amps are going in, or being drawn out of the battery bank, as well as a number of other helpful functions. This SHOULD have been done at the initial installation! Turns out the remote by itself, that only reads out the voltage in the batteries, is a very inaccurate method of trying to determine what is really going on with your system.

With this new monitoring system in place, I immediately learned what I had long expected was happening. My first evening, with my normal routine of computer and television use drawing my batteries down to an 80% charge reading ( thanks to the new monitoring kit ) from their original full charge. The voltage reading I used to rely on was 12.2 and that has been getting me out to start up the generator to recharge when I still had an 80% charge left in the battery bank, but, of course I had no way to know that before. In other words, my system was working just fine, but my remote was giving me bad info.

As to the solar panel input, turns out the installed solar controller is a single stage, non-programable one and therefore can’t apply the appropriate varying degrees of voltage necessary for the optimal multi stage charging needed by the batteries. I will be replacing the controller next week and probably adding another 160 watt panel to the roof as well.

While I was at Starlight Solar getting the monitor installed, I had them install a separate 300 watt inverter that I could use to power up the TV or the computer when I was only going to need power for those devices, thus saving having to use the larger, and presumably power hungrier,  large inverter/charger. I will have to monitor the difference in power consumption to see if this makes any substantial difference. My total bill for todays work came to $583, of which the monitor itself was only $190. In addition to the inexpensive 300 watt inverter, they also reworked some wiring in the battery compartment, installing a couple of badly needed battery terminals to accomodate all the leads coming in and out of the battery bank.

$600 is real money to me, but I have to look at it as being the same as just 20 nights boon docking instead of paying to stay in a private campground with electrical hookups. The new solar panel and controller is estimated to cost me another $1400, lets see, that means another 47 nights spent out in the desert. In the end, this really is a quality of life issue, as I would much rather be boon docking out in the wilds than be crammed in paved slots of a private campground, enslaved to the power pedestal.

My blog posting problems finally resolved?

As of this post, I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com

 

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !


 

January 4, 2015 Imperial LTVA, California

Five wild burros
Five wild burros

A Tour of Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

This morning I did the Sunday morning tour of Imperial NWR, led by Judy Bell, author of the blog Travels with Emma, just myself and one other couple. Nice, clear, but cool morning , 27 degrees at the start, and, while enjoyable, not terribly rewarding.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

There simply are not that many birds here, and Judy said this was probably the best time of the winter season to see the most birds. There were coots, ruddy ducks and gadwalls in the ponds, seen at a fair distance, a few small birds, also at a distance, a couple great blue herons and great egrets, a few northern harriers and a flock of white pelicans. Add in a red tailed hawk and a small flock of Canada Geese and that was pretty much it. Nothing to write home about.

I’m glad I did the tour with Judy, and she did her best to put us on whatever there was out there, but I doubt that I would bother to visit the refuge again, just not much bang for the buck for a wildlife photographer, and it is located more than just a little out of the way. My only images taken this day were of a small band of wild burros I encountered on the way in to the refuge, while it was still all but dark.

Mom and colt
Mom and colt

My blog posting problems finally resolved?

As of this post, I believe ( I am keeping my fingers crossed ) that my ability to do blog posts in a timely manner has finally, after a month of frustration, been resolved. For those of you who follow this blog, you may have to re- bookmark the page to this new address:    ramcquade.com

Thank you for shopping Amazon from my site!

When you click through to shop Amazon from here, I get a tiny commission, one that does not in any way impact what you pay, and all those tiny commissions eventually add up and that helps me keep this blog going !