Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Love Lists...

I love lists and organizing things. So, now that we are back in Wisconsin for a while, I have put together a lists of various categories from our first off grid experience.

Lists of Surprises
1. I was surprised how quickly we adjusted to minimal light in the evenings, how quickly it became 'normal' to carry a small LED/9volt flashlight in our pockets to pull out as needed.
2. I was surprised we did not miss TV the entire time we were down there.

Our Dragonfly Bowl and
a gift from Zeke to Grandma.
Both look great in the living room.
3. I was surprised our realtor gave us a lovely bowl made by a local potter that will match my planned living room colors.
4. I was surprised to learn our property was condemned! It is not as bad as it sounds. Remember the water department that was crossing our property, installing a county water line? We discovered that the county had to get 400 easements along the path of the water line. When they received no response from either the previous owners, or the bank when it was foreclosed upon, they filed to have the easement section condemned. Once they learned we had bought the property and were willing to sign an easement agreement, the condemnation was dropped.

List of Firsts
1. It was my first trip to a landfill. When we tore up three room of carpeting and padding we had to find out how to dispose of it. Turns out, you can take loads of garbage to the local landfill just like the city and village garbage trucks. We loaded everything into 'Truck'(I know, not a very original name for our truck, but Scoot name him), drove to the land fill and waited in line with the big industrial garbage trucks to get weighed. We then donned the required safety vests, off-loaded all the carpet at the public unloading area and returned to the scale so that our fee could be calculated.

2. First deep fried corn-on-the-cob, if it's deep fried it has to be good right? There is a local restaurant chain we tried that ended up being similar to a Cracker Barrel. One of their sides was those half length ears of corn restaurants like to serve, that has been battered and deep fried. I liked it, but Alan was not impressed.
3. First time to visit Home Depot three days in a row, and probably at least 5 times in one week. You know it's bad when you get to know the cashiers and they ask you how various projects are going.
4. First time to eat Spam with bacon. Now I do not mean Spam and bacon served on the same plate, I mean Spam that has been made with bits of bacon in it. I am explaining this clearly to make a point in another list below.

List of Skills (I did not know I had)
1. Steering both a shopping cart and a lumber cart at the same time through Home Depot. Well, as Alan was so gracious to point out, it was not so much a skill, as practice makes purpose (see #3 in List of Firsts above).
2. Ingenuity to solve problems with items on hand - strapping down the mattress set to the top of the truck cap, finding ways to use various flashlights in hands-free set-ups such as wedging them in kitchen cupboards and hanging them with looped rubber bands, and wrangling a GIANT moth out of the house using a LED spotlight.
3. Sitting on chairs Alan was assembling so that the legs would be level and they would not wobble when completed.

List of Things I Have Learned
1. Think through an entire project BEFORE heading to get supplies. Several times before leaving the house I would make a comment like 'We need to get the stuff for building the stairs to the deck' or some other specific project. Then, when we get the the store Alan would ask specific questions, like 'How high is the deck from the ground?' And I would realize that even though I 'spearheaded' the project, I never actually determined what was needed.
2. While very like-minded, Alan and I interpret plain English sentences very differently at times. Remember, I was going to tie in something that the Spam comment above reminded me of. When I wrote that item on the list, I realized it could be interpreted two different ways, and I have discovered that Alan and I often interpret things in two different ways. This becomes more apparent and humorous when working on projects. It did not take us long to learn to stop and have each other explain what we thought something meant. For example, one day at Home Depot, we were taking out a load of lumber on one of their lumber carts. I was at the front facing towards the back and Alan was at the back, facing towards the front. So, we were at each end of the cart facing each other. I told Alan to pull ahead so that we did not have a sign between us and the truck for loading the lumber from the cart to the truck. As I said this, I started pulling forward (moving backwards) and he started pulling also (moving backwards in the other direction). To him, I said pull ahead and thus he started pulling the cart, even though it meant he was moving backward. I told him 'No, I said pull ahead' to which he said 'I am'. I had to explain I was thinking of it as pull ahead not pull ahead. I asked if he were driving and I told him to pull ahead would he put the car in reverse? Then he understood how I had meant my sentence to be interpreted. Now it has become second nature, and quite entertaining, to stop and see if we actual interpret various instructions the same way.

Lists of '-ests'
1. Hardest project - Until the night before we left, we had agreed the hardest project had been pulling the submersible pump from the well (190 feet). But on the last night, I wanted to block a couple holes that had been cut in the laundry room ceiling up into the attic. The largest was 4 foot square.I came up with the idea of putting a 4x8 sheet of Masonite up on the ceiling. It was white on one side, which matched the ceiling and would not look unsightly. Being 1/8 inch thick it was very flexible, but very hard to drill through and awkward to work with when trying to attach a full sheet to the ceiling. We attempted this on our last night there, when very tired and it was the hottest, humidest (I know not a real word but it works in this list) day of our stay. But, we had success and hopefully no critters have worked their way through it.
2. Dirtiest project - Pulling up the carpet and padding in three rooms. It was extremely dusty, dirty and stained. After starting on the first carpet, I realized I better get a mask before continuing. By the end, the outside of my mask was brown so I think it was a good idea. While a disgusting job, it was also like an archeological dig. For example, in room number #1 I was able to deduce:
- it was a girl's room due to the amount of bead and sequins I found around the edges of the room after the carpet had been pulled.
- the girl had long hair based on the number of hair ties in the room
- she either had some sort of rodent or bird as a pet based on the number of seed shells on the floor

And room #2 was deduced to be a boys room based on
- a wide variety of airsoft pellets
- various Lego pieces
- much more dirt than the girl's room

3. Funniest Comments - I really wish we had kept a running list of comments like we have learned to do at our annual Turkey Palooza celebration with our kids. I know there were quite a few good laughs, but one that I remember was when Alan wanted to take a picture of me in my full protection garb for pulling up the carpets. He goes to take the picture, says 'Smile' and couldn't figure out why I burst out laughing (my protection included a face mask).

4. Funnest Part (I know, not a word again)
Definitely being able to do this with my best friend. When we pulled onto our property for the first time after the signing, Alan handed me a beautiful card thanking me for being willing to live this dream with him. I find it such a blessing to be married to such a like-minded spouse, its amazing how much humor and pleasure we share in everything we do.

Well, that's the end of the lists for now. Time for me to end this post and start making lists for the next trip we are making in a few weeks...

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Typical Day

 Alan wrote this example of a typical day our first week living off grid. It will be interesting to see how this changes as we make improvements and additions to our various off grid amenities. I have added my additional comments in italics.

Sunrise coming through the window along with the sounds of the woodpecker brigade, time to get up and start the day, since we turn in most nights 2 to 3 hours after sunset.

Fill the toilet tank, first of two daily flushings of the toilet! (These will increase as we improve our water storage.)

Grind the coffee, boil the water, press the press: Its the perfect cup
(sung to the tune from Robin Williams TOYS)

Gather up the solar powered items; radio, lantern, 18 volt tool batteries and place them out on the deck in pools of sunlight. Move throughout the day as required.

While it recharges, tune the solar radio to NPR and catch up on the news of the day. Fire up the Internet and check email, probably do some get-paid-for work.

Success! Finally got the well pump pulled; 190 feet deep!
While its still cool outside, don our Permethrin treated outdoor clothes and do the outside chores. Could be work on the well, or spraying noxious stuff on the ticks and spiders (still no snake sightings), work on the deck etc. Much to do, and the temp is climbing. (I tend to do more get-paid-for work and also catch up on packaging eBay sales for shipment if we are going to be near a post office that day.)

Now inside work; ripping out carpet, cleaning floors and cabinets, etc.

As the day progressed, needful things get added to the shopping list. It's now probably time to head out to get them (Hardware stores, here I come!). Toss all the empty non-potable water jugs in the truck to fill while we are out. Dinner (and bathroom stops) might be included while out!

Back home, unload, its getting dark. See if the kerosene lanterns need filling and light them. Move chairs out to the deck for a bit of relaxation (no mosquitoes!).

Sun is down.

Get back online, check email, and usually some more get-paid-for work (My usual hours to work on get-paid-for projects used to be late at night, going to bed around 2 or 3 a.m., now I am so tired I want to turn in around 10 at the latest.).

Time to turn in. Fill the toilet tank, second flushing of the day! Tick check! (By the end of the week, the war against ticks had been won, even when working outside pulling the well. etc. there were no ticks found. Tick checks are no longer necessary, but that doesn't mean they are going to stop. ;-) )

Good night!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hardware & Software Upgrades

Ready to work on the deck
Snakes Beware!
First, for those of you who were asking for another post, I apologize you had to wait for this one, we have been busy working on the property while trying to keep up with our real jobs (work-work). So, there is a lot to catch up on, here we go...

How could we call ourselves true geeks if we did not upgrade to newer, better versions of hardware (stuff) and software (how we do things) our first week off grid? This blog entry is a photo-documentary on some of our upgrades this week.

Alan assures me these will make it back to
the Geek's Quad
One of our first upgrades was our bed. We had brought an inflatable mattress with us and had planned to use it for this trip and then replace it with a bed later on. Well, we may be adventurous, but we are also old enough to be grandparents. After a hard day's work, it was difficult settling down onto the air mattress and even harder working our way up off it in the mornings with sore muscles, so replacing it with a bed became one of our first hardware upgrades. We have our pickup truck with us on this trip, so we thought it would be no problem to go pick a bed up and bring it home in the truck bed, which has a cap. The truck bed is 8 feet long by 4 feet wide (we bought it for hauling plywood, drywall, etc.) but we discovered the cap door severely limits what we can load inside. So we looked like true 'mountain folk' leaving the city with our new mattress set strapped to the top of the cap.

Bed Version 1.0
This photo also shows some of the worst areas of the
walls, and the French doors to the deck
Bed Version 2.0
Note the bed is in the middle of the room and
on a tarp. We had a HUGE spider in the bathroom.

Alan building my pub style table & chairs.
(My thanks to him was including that first photo of me!)
Another furniture upgrade was our table. We brought a card table with us and it is working fine as a kitchen table and office space for when we need to do work-work (computer programming). However, one of my 'wants' (not need) for the future was a pub style table to work jigsaw puzzles on when we get settled. Well, as we were shopping for a bed, we saw a great deal on a table and chairs that was just what we had in mind. The day after the great bed expedition, we returned to town to purchase the table. We asked the salesman if it was pre-assembled and he assured us that even though it was boxed and 'to be assembled' it was not difficult. Little did he know we preferred it in a box because that meant it would not need to be strapped to the truck cap.

Table Version 1.0

Table Version 2.0

Alan had been mulling over another upgrade, this time it would be a 'software' upgrade. Well, it did involve another trip to the HARDWARE store (yipee!). While our house has a bathroom, there is no running water. Our shower 1.0 consisted of a watering can that one person tipped over the top of the tub/shower enclosure while the other 'showered' (or would that be sprinkled)? I think Alan's idea for Shower 2.0 was ingenious. He recalled seeing a backpack sprayer at Harbor Freight that uses a hand pump to pressurize it. That, along with a spray wand for a hose and a complicated arrangement of a nylon tie downs has created a very unique shower solution that works great. My next experiment is to add some hot water to the tank right before I shower.

Shower Version 1.0
I thought the watering can was brilliant.

I was really impressed with the upgrade.

I think Alan was motivated by my comment
that I may have to cut my hair to make
off-grid hair washing manageable.

Shower Version 2.0

Today, we also worked on upgrades to the deck. The majority of the deck is rotted. We can use the sections on one side of the house to get the the main door and the french doors, but we need to replace some decking in this area to make it safe as the deck is about 5 feet off the ground. Eventually we will replace the rest of the deck. As the deck is about 8 feet wide and surrounds three sides of the house, it will be done in segments as we can afford lumber.

Deck Version 1.0

Deck Version 2.0 (well 1 board)

I also started ripping up the carpet in the bedrooms today. However, I soon realized it was probably not a good idea to tear up the stinky, very dusty carpet and padding without wearing a mask. So, the rest of that job is postponed until tomorrow when I am better equipped.

Floor Version 1.0

Floor Version 2.0

Our last upgrade today was a great surprise. A young couple walked up our driveway and introduced themselves as our 'neighbors'. They live two houses down from us (about a mile?). We asked them about water as we had noticed people making daily trips down the road with large water tanks in the back of their pickups. We had brought water bottles down this trip for potable and non-potable water. We had filled the potable bottles back home in Wisconsin to make sure we had water when we arrived. Since we got here, we have been going to self-serve car washes to fill up our non-potable bottles, and found a rest area where we could replenish our potable bottles for 25 cents per gallon. Our new neighbors told us about a road side spring one road over from us that has a pipe coming out to the side of the road. So, we now have free non-potable water and do not have to drive into town to a car wash. We could also use it as potable water if we run it through our filters, so we can lower the priority of working on the well.

Getting Water Version 1.0

Getting Water Version 2.0

One other upgrade, that we did not do, is driveway 2.0. The water pipeline crew said a second crew would follow up in a week or two making the swath they cut through our front yard look nice. Friday, they had moved past our property, but I heard some equipment back in are yard and one of the guys had come back and worked quite a while grading out the bottom of our drive, near the road where it had been very rough from wash-outs and large rocks.

I hope you enjoyed the photo-journal. We have bee having a blast this first week. I can't believe we have to leave in just a few days. I also have several ideas for upcoming blogs bouncing around in my brain. It's getting hard to decide what to write about next.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's With That?

 I was going to post a blog entry last night about our first full day living off grid, but after dinner, I was just too tired to write a cognitive sentence. I decided I better wait until after a good night sleep or it would not be a very perky update. Here is a timeline since we arrived:

12:00 Arrive at the property for the final walk through the house with our realtor. We learn the closing is scheduled for 8:30 in the morning so that will give us most of the day to get set up before nightfall.
1:00 Realtor leaves, Alan and I walk around the property close to the house for about 15 minutes. I know this seems like a insignificant timeline entry, don't worry I am not going to list everything we did in 15 minute segments, but this 15 minutes impacted many of the following...
3:00 Check into the hotel for the night before the closing. Alan finds a tick crawling on my shirt.
3:05 I find another tick on my shirt. What's with that?
3:10 Intensive tick check. Final count Alan:2 Arn:3. That was fun except for the actual tick part.
Late lunch then stop at Lowes to beef up our tick arsenal, this is war. We had arrived prepared for deep woods tactical encounters with permathrine to treat our clothes, but did nor expect so many insurgents awaiting our walk from the cars to the house. We picked up granules that, when spread on the ground, controls tick encampments throughout the season. Alan later researches and finds a yard spray based on permathrine he can order. But it requires a hose sprayer to use, it does not work with a pump sprayer. So now he has to research a sprinkler pump to work off of the cistern.
4:30 Our realtor calls to tell us the closing will not be at 8:30. It will be sometime tomorrow but the HUD papers still have not been signed by the seller (bank). What's with that? She will call us tomorrow when she finds out the time.
7:25 Back at the hotel doing some work, I find another tick crawling on me.
7:30 'Tick Check: The Sequel'. Two more on Alan. We noticed there is a variety in size, color, etc. Google and learn there are over 702 species, hopefully not all native to The Ozarks.
4:30 The closing. After all this time, the actual closing takes about 15 minutes, how anti-climatic is that? The HUD papers still are not signed, we will get a signed copy mailed to us. What's with that? The closing was moved from early morning to late afternoon just because the signed HUD was 'needed'.
6:30 Arrive at the property and unpack both vehicles. Not much daylight left for the first day's set up.
8:00 Internet is up & operating, kerosine lights are hung in the living room, the perimeter of the bedroom has been sprayed with spider killer, the bed is set up (inflated) and motion detectors have been attached to the doors (locks have not been changed yet).
9:30 Alan opens the french doors (Ooooh! french doors) and a huge moth (at least 6 inches long) flies in. It must have been conscripted by the ticks.
9:35 Alan is a moth wrangler and uses the LED flood light to herd the moth back out the door like the Pied Piper for moths. The moth continues to bang against the door wanting back in, its two eyes glowing bright gold..
6:30 Wake up. What's with that? Thanks Mr. Woodpecker or joining the tick's side of this war.

View from our deck.
Alan walks down to talk to the men with construction equipment coming onto our property. What's with that? I think I forgot to mention that when we got to the house after the closing there was construction equipment parked at the edge of our property, it looked like some kind of pipeline project. Alan discovers it is the county bring 'city water' up this dirt road. How ironic for our first day in our off grid house! Now remember, we need to drive at least 5 miles on dirt roads (half of which is rough, rocky dirt roads) to get to pavement, yet there is now going to be city water going across the property.
11:00 I set this as the time I would stop working on the house to check email, and make lunch. Here is what we accomplished this morning:
- a solar panel is up and charging the gel cell battery we brought with us
- all the kitchen cupboards and drawers, office shelves and bathroom cabinets have been washed so things can be put away rather then piling up on the counters and floor
- bathroom and laundry room floors mopped, I am trying to be economical with the water I use for cleaning since we have to carry it in for now, so I looked at the bucket of water after washing down cabinets and decided it was clean enough to do the bathroom floor. By then it was pretty dirty, but the laundry room floor was filthy so I figured even dirty water would work for the first mopping of it.
- Alan cut down a couple small tree that overhung the ladder we are using to get up onto the deck. This will eradicate the tick sniper troops that would lie in wait for us up in the branches to leap down on us.
Rodney holding down the water line.
While I worked on the computer, Alan started working on the well. The goal was to determine how deep it is which will in turn determine what type of pump we may be able to use to bring up water. It currently had a submersible pump and we could not see the bottom. We decide to pull the submersible pump. So I don work gloves to give Alan a hand. After pulling about 30 feet of water line, with the heavy pump attached at the bottom, we decide it's time to engage the help of Rodney (4 wheel drive Kia Sportage). We tie the well cap to the tow hitch and are able to pull about another 20 feet before the rope breaks when we had to turn and start driving up the road, and the rope rubbed against a tree. So,we park Rodney with a tire on the water pipe to hold it at the point we have it at so far, and will have another go when we our muscles recuperate.
4:00 Alan heads into town to pick up some 'odds and ends' we have added to an ongoing list that will make projects and life a little easier while I enjoy listening to the solar powered radio and working on client projects. At about 7:00 the radio stops, the sun is going down.
Our temporary solar set up in the kitchen window.
Alan returns with all the things on his list plus a few other goodies I got excited about - a new power inverter, clothes hooks for the bedroom, an extra solar panel (we left two at home, not thinking the window was big enough to hold two) and wasp spray. I made dinner while Alan added a second solar panel to our temporary set up in the kitchen window.
8:45 After dinner tick check. (Alan:1 Arn:0 Woo-hoo! we are winning the battle)
9:00 We have turned in for the night. So early? What's with that?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

We are off grid!

Just a short post tonight. We couldn't get into the house until 6:30 tonight so it was a mad dash to beat the darkness as we set up 'camp' in the house. I will post more details tomorrow.
Off grid internet, kerosene lanterns, giant moths!

Friday, May 11, 2012


Our closing date is this coming Tuesday. WE ACTUALLY HAVE A CLOSING DATE!!! WE ARE CLOSING ON THE PROPERTY!!! Did I mention we have a closing date?

We are heading out on Sunday, meeting with our realtor on Monday for a final walk through and then meeting with all parties involved for the closing on Tuesday. Then we will have about a week and a half to see what we can accomplish on this first trip.

Left-Brain List vs. Left-Brain List
Several weeks ago,  I asked Alan to make a list of what he wanted to accomplish on our first stay at the property. I thought it would be fun to compare our lists. First a side by side comparison of our top priorities. I cannot use my ubiquitous assortment of hi-lighters for ease of comparison, so I added some color coded backgrounds to make it easier to see how we matched up.

#1 Easy access to the deck to get in, probably just a step-ladder Determine route to closest ER/immediate care
#2 Septic system additives - Cleaner and treatment. The system has not been used in so long, its bacteria is probably dead. Build steps to deck
(Alan's #1)
#3 Inside lighting: kerosene, motion-detection LED. Hopefully before it gets dark. Internet
(Alan's #10)
#4 Outside lighting: driveway stake lights, doorway flood lights, motion detector - all solar Indoor security - change locks, check door & window integrity
(Alan's #5 & #6)
#5 Change locks Hike/mark property
(Alan's #13)
#6 Inside security system Outdoor solar lighting & security
(Alan's #4 & #9)
#7 Setup bedroom - hopefully before we drop from exhaustion Outdoor presence (slob art) so the property looks occupied.
#8 Setup kitchen - Katadyn water filter, Kelly Kettle, butane burner, COFFEE GRINDER Start lists - needs, to-do, thoughts & ideas for future
#9 Outside WiFi night-vision security cameras at doors Measure all aspects of house
#10 Test our two contenders for Internet access - AT&T and Verizon (hoping Verizon wins due to slightly better pricing) Clean kitchen cupboards etc. so we can be ready to put stuff away we bring on the next trip
(Alan's #8 - sort of)
#11 Setup solar system inside house for remote monitoring and Internet access Remove rotted decking and calculate amount of lumber needed to re-deck
#12 Checkout well -measure water depth Add one more thing to my list so it's as long as Alan's
#13 Explore actual property lines Check to make sure my list is as long as Alan's
I was going to analyze our similarities and differences, but it might be more interesting to get some feedback from my readers. Feel free to chime in with any comments and/or insights when comparing our lists.

Be Afraid Creepy-Crawlies!
I have also put together some photos of a few more 'interesting' items we are taking with us:

Permethrin Tick Repellent
(and cool solar lantern)

Spider Killer
(We will be in Brown Recluse territory)
See a trend?!?

There are also poisonous snakes in the region, so we were also considering snake repellent granules (right) to spread around the outside perimeter of the house. I discovered the two main active ingredients in natural snake repellents are clove and cinnamon, so maybe I should just bake cookies instead.

Actually, I like my alternative (see below).

Three sizes of snake-shot
(for my 22 Ruger target pistol,
my 38 Smith & Wesson revolver
and 410 shot for my Smith & Wesson Governor

One other item we found at Tractor Supply (almost a hardware store) today. This cool 12 volt power station that has three 12 volt (cigarette lighter) sockets and 2 USB ports that can all be used in tandem. The description says it mounts on a dashboard. Now who would ever have a dashboard in their house?

Hopefully my next entry will be made from the property, connected over the cell network, powered by solar!

Friday, May 4, 2012

What to do while waiting - SHOP, of course!

Again, I had planned on waiting until we had a closing date to post my next blog entry, but I just noticed my page views shot way up today and, also, I am feeling withdrawal so here we go....

First, as you can deduce from the previous sentence - no closing date yet. Before I get into this post's topic, I will share part of the last email received regarding the property. This is from the title company:
"There are 2 corrective deeds that need to be signed by the loan servicer. The deeds have been forwarded to them. As of yesterday, they were not signed. ...there were requirements for an affidavit to correct the foreclosure documents and for 2 corrective deeds. I received the affidavit, but not the deeds. ...Our underwriter would not accept just the affidavit. ...So, now we are just waiting for the deeds."

Well, at least it has progressed to a point that someone knows where some paperwork is at, the consensus seems to be that one party thought an affidavit stating what the error is on the two deeds would be enough, while the other party insists the deeds need to be corrected, not just add another paper saying 'this it what should be on these two deeds'.

So, what have we been doing while continuing to wait? (1) Alan has been perusing property web sites again. As we near yet another extension deadline, we need to decide if we allow another extension or not. We have discussed what would sway our decision one way or the other as the date approaches, but hopefully we will not get to that point. While it is fun to look at other possible properties, we have made a lot of plans based on this one. We never expected to have a house on the property, but after finding this one, it would be hard to reset our train of thought back to the timeline before we knew about the property we are hoping to close on. We may need to add a time machine to our list of things we want to experiment with.
(2) SHOPPING! You may think this is going to be redundant because, yes, we went to Lehman's ( and had a shopping spree (see previous posts). And yes, we went to Harbor Freight ( and filled a couple shopping carts (also a previous post), but this is a different kind of shopping story. This one involves the elusive, the experimental and the unexpected (and I admit unnecessary).

The Elusive:
Item #1 - a cork. We wanted a small cork for our Berky Water Filter (pictured to the right). The filters for the system can handle 6000 gallons of water, but they also have a 6 month active life once put into use. The system uses multiple filters at once to increase the flow rate. Since we will never reach the 6000 gallon volume limit within the 6 month time limit, we want to only use one filter at a time. It will take longer to filter the water, but we can get 12 months off two filters rather than 6 months. To do this, all we needed was a small rubber stopper to block water flow to one of the filters. So we had to make another trip to a hardware store. In fact, we went to a couple hardware stores and a farm supply store and none carried rubber stoppers. Then I thought of American Science Surplus ( Yes, it is about an hour away but we condoned the long trip for such a small item because we could combine it with a visit to our see our 9 month old grandson (and daughter & son-in-law), and besides, who knows what else we would find at this extremely unique store. Success! as we expected, and we also found a few other items.

Item #2 - a small twist on cap. A friend gave us three great bottles for taking potable water down to the property on our first trip. However, one of the bottles was missing the small twist on cap for the vent hole. Alan went to about a dozen stores looking for some product that would have the same size cap - hardware stores (of course), dollar stores, pharmacies, etc. I am also assuming he looked around the house, but after all the effort going from store to store, I don't want to ask that question now.

Unfortunately, we hadn't started looking for a cap when we were on the great rubber stopper expedition. But as exasperation started setting in over the elusiveness of the sought after cap, we determined we must once again make the trek to American Science Surplus. The fact that we had something to deliver to our daughter and would get to see our grandson again may have heightened our 'need' to find this cap at Science Surplus.
Once again the store did not disappoint, we found the perfect size cap on a small, empty glass bottle. All it took was 35 cents (and about a 100 mile round trip) to get the elusive cap. Good thing Scoot gets great diesel mileage.