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.


  1. I'm a little worried about that spider in the bed room. What were the estimated dimensions?

    1. The huge spider was in the bathroom, on the wall next to the toilet. It was about 3 inches long and was NOT one of those daddy-long-leg types, it was a 'fat' spider with normal spider legs, it looked like a small non-fuzzy tarantuala. I saw another spider while tearing up carpet today, smaller but brown and I am a bit paranoid of coming across a brown recluse so he quickly became a squashed spider ( I was wearing work boots and gloves).

  2. "getting water version 2" kind of looks like a drive through with that pipe sticking out!

    1. Yes, it is rather strange looking, but fun. I especially like the forked branch that has the pipe strapped to it near the road end. Going back to the spigot (in the woods at the cistern) everything is moss covered.