Posted on September 23rd, 2016 by David.B
Well, it is now time to talk about a dirty subject…Gray and Black Tanks! “Oh what joy!” Yea, I know! I am super excited about it also. (hummmm….)
Now many people asked about this and this usually means they are new to RVing and just do not really know. We have all been at that point of not knowing how this should be done and seeing we get asked at least three times a month, well, we are over due at making a post and a video that we can point people to. But this also gave me a great chance to put in a new sewer hose system that uses a totally different fitting that does not leak, with a MUCH more industrial hose that would take a lot to hurt it. It’s called the Waste Master. Waste Master was designed and tested for years by Drain Master and then it was sold to LCI as they had a much larger distribution network. (Thus the like names) However the Drain Master company is still involved. (Ok, that was more than you needed to know, but thought I would mention it as you may find it on either site and the names are, well, the same but different.)
So, black and gray tanks. I will make this quick and easy as their really is not much to understanding the use of the tanks. (Ok, after writing the blog post it was not a quick post after all. Who knew their was so much to write on the topic?) Now I KNOW that people WILL HAVE AN OPINION on this. But this is how WE do it and the logic as to why we do it the way we do. And after all, we are the ones being asked. :) But of course, please feel free to comment and help others.
The “Black” tank is used to store your digestive waste. This comes from the thought that the waste is much darker in color. I guess it could have been called the “brown” tank seeing the “Gray” tank is used to store used water such as sinks and showers and as such the way it actually looks is gray when it comes out. But oh well that is the way it is. (Guessing that maybe early on the tanks themselves were actually black and gray in color and so it stuck. Today they are usually the same color…black.)
RULE: Dump black tank first and then the gray tank right after it so it will flush out the tube. So what this also means is that if you are one to leave the gray tank open all the time…BE SURE to close the gray tank so you can build up liquid in it of at least 30% before you dump the black tank. You NEED to flush out the tube after you dump the black tank. So, when black gets to about 50%, close the gray tank and by the time you are needing to dump the black, you will have enough gray water for the tube flush out.
BLACK TANK – Leave this CLOSED all the time until it is time to empty it. “But Dave, I have full hookups and so I am connected to a sewer.” Well great! But leave it closed! “But why Dave?” Well, your “solid” waste has no way of being able to flow out of the tank without being pulled out by all the liquid waste and flush water that is allowed to build up when you have it closed. So if you leave the tank open, your solid waste would just go “Plunk” down into the tank and would just stay there while the flush water and “#1” would just run out. (That is until the outgoing opening gets plugged from to much solid build up then you are in for some bad times.) So leaving it closed allows for all the flush water and “#1” to build up and up and up. You dump the tank when it gets to be above 70% (Give or take.) This way you would have built up enough liquids that when you open the tank it would create a “whoosh” and a suction effect that would then pull the solids out with it.
Then if your RV has a tank rinse, you turn that on when the meter gets down to about 20% left and let it run some. This will help to knock things down the walls and also help to push some of the solids towards the opening. After a few minutes I then close the black tank and let the rinse run some to put some liquid into the tank to start it off. Again, I do not want solids to just go “plunk” into the tank and stick there. Having liquid already in the tank will help with it not sticking so it can be pulled out.
GRAY TANK – Ok, this is the touchy one. I think we can all agree that the black tank stays closed until needed to dump for the reason stated. But the Gray Tank can go either way…open or closed when hooked up to a sewer line. So what is one to do? Well, like the black tank, the gray tank can also have solids in it from rinsing plates etc. But what is worse, the grease or oils that can and do go down the drain no matter how you may try not to. They can and will build up on the side walls and even the bottom of the tank making a “mucky paste” of ick!
To prove this in the video you will see that I added a clear drain extension and left the gray tank OPEN for a month. You will see that over time an oil and grease sludge built up on the side of the clear tube that the gray tank was on. So what this means is if you leave the tank open all the time, you WILL get a build up in your tank as these will stick to the sides and grow in thickness. If however you leave it closed, then just like the black tank, you will then be able to have a lot of it pulled out when dumped at about 70% (give or take) as most will be floating on top of the water and thus be pulled out.
Now that is not to say that you can not leave the gray tank open, and a lot of people do. But that does mean you should be using something like Happy Campers Holding Tank Treatment to help treat the tank to dissolve it the best you can. We do this when we travel by having at least 50% in the gray tank and adding Happy Campers to it when we travel. As we drive it will slosh around and when we arrive, we will then dump the tank, thus clearing it out the best we can. We do try to wait at least 8 hours (say 4 hours of driving and then another 4 hours. Or better yet, letting it sit overnight after the drive and then dumping in the morning. (Gray tank only…If doing it on the black tank, dump right away as it will all be mixed up thus not having time to skink to the bottom.)
So…Do we leave ours open or closed? Well, that changes for us. If we know we will be doing laundry all day we will open the tank and thus we will not have a quick build up of gray water. However, for the most part, we keep the gray closed and open as needed. Yes, of course you then tend to need to dump the tank more often then just when the black is full. This is one reason in the future I will be adding electronic dump valves so we can do it right from our bathroom. :)
“So Dave, why now make this post?” That is because I just got a new hose system that needed to be installed and thought I would do it all at the same time. Tank talk and tube talk.
You see, I have grown frustrated with the darn hoses because the one I used to use, the RhinoFlex by Camco, has gotten really bad in manufacturing IMHO. I went through two of them in three months because the hoses would split at the spine. In the past I had used them for years without issue. Then we bought the new coach and I wanted a nice new hose. Well it seems that they changed the plastic or something and I had two bad experiences due to cracks. So then I looked for another solution and I found the gray Viper hose by Valterra that was looking to be great! Well not so fast. While I like it a lot better than the RhinoFlex, I did end up getting a hole in it that I needed to seal with Emergency Tape and I did not like the fact it would not stay in place as the rubbery tube will not stay coiled when used. As such, even if you are 5 feet from the sewer, all of the 20 feet of hose will be out and uncoiled.
I then came across the Waste Master hose system. After being stung to many times, I was fearful of the price as I hated to spend more only to have more expensive issues. Also, it was different. And by that, I mean that it does not use the bayonet locks that are on almost all RV’s, it uses a CAM lock system. Unlike the bayonet locks that seem to be used ONLY in the RV industry for liquid. CAM locks are used across the world as a secure, leak free, easy to use hose linkage system. Ever see a fuel tanker truck hooking up to unload fuel to a gas station tank? If so, you had seen CAM locks in use. They are used industry wide from fire trucks to tankers and even fueling jets. So why is it that the RV industry choose long ago to use a bayonet flitting vs a proven positive locking system for dumping waste? NO CLUE! I can only guess to make after market products that are only used for RV’s, thus being able to make more income. HOWEVER, they still could have used a system that THE ENTIRE WORLD uses just as easy and still made their own hoses etc.
So…After researching and actually talking to the guy that came up with the CAM lock hose system for RV use, I was willing to modify our coach to use CAM locks and thus allowing me to use an industrial, patented, drainage hose! (Do you know how hard it is to patent a hose? Lets just say it is as hard as one would think, a hose is a hose is a hose. Nope.)
But when I say modify the coach it may sound worse than it is. It actually takes under 10 minutes to do and can be done by anyone. (Well, almost. I asked Brenda to and she said no.) It just involved cutting off the four tabs that the bayonet uses on the bottom of the “Y” pipe and then glueing on the new CAM fitting to the end of the “Y” pipe. POOF! New industrial fitting that uses a hose that seems to really be something that would take a lot, and I mean A LOT, to hurt. Also when you have it in place where you want it…It says in place. It will not uncoil like the gray hose did.
I did mentioned the higher price of the system. However what I did not mention is I did spend more in three months on replacement hoses than the system costed me. So, in theory, this should be the last hose system I should ever have to buy. Also, when we change coaches some day, I will simply buy a new “Y” pipe and replace the one I put the CAM fitting on thus allowing me to take my totally awesome new waste drainage system with me. (Well, as totally awesome as sewer waste goes.)
TIP: If you choose to also go with the Waste Master system, be sure to get the “Back to Bayonet Adaptor” also. Why? Say you are dry camping somewhere and they offer pump out service, then they will likely come with a bayonet fitting to attached to your RV. (Because that is what they would expect you would have of course.) So you then can pop in the adaptor and have the correct fitting so you can then dump. You can also get a 20 foot extension hose for those times when you just can’t reach.
After using this new system for a short time I will already go on record to say, I truly think that this is the best waste draining system hands down! From the correct type fitting, IMHO, to the totally great industrial hose, right on down to the “business” end having a shut off.
Attn RV Industry: Please be so kind to switch to a proven system that just works and does not leak. And by that I mean going to a CAM lock fitting that is simple to use, does not bind up, and does not leak.
So I made a video. (Of course) In the video I talk about the the tank usage, then go on to talk about hoses which gets me to the Waste Master, and then I do the install of the Waste Master and dump our tanks. Seeing the entire thing is 35 minutes long, in the beginning of the video I tell the starting time of each section. As such, you can jump to the part that interests you. Enjoy our waste.
Posted on September 14th, 2016 by Brenda.B
Whether you have been full timing for a while like us, are new to full timing or are still in the research phase, the following video, we feel may be relevant to all. While most people think about the travel and the adventure and visiting places on your bucket list, there is another side to full timing that is most often not talked about and ignored. By that I mean the disconnection you may feel from your family, friends and a community. A disconnection that can sometimes lead to depression.
For us, we did not consider this when we were looking to travel full time. We both grew up in one area of the country. Most of our family is in this one area of the country. Our friends we grew up with are all in this one area. When we left this area to travel full time, to get “Outside Our Bubble”, we were good for a while. Seeing new things and experiencing new things. New cultures, new foods, meeting new people.
I won’t go into to much detail here because I feel what David says in the video says it all. I did not know he was making this video but once I saw it, we both knew it had to go online and be said publicly. He wears his heart on his sleeve and I love him for that. He is honest and a good man and I am glad that we found each other 22+ years ago. We have both been there for each other in good times and hard times and I could not have picked a better partner to travel down the road with and have our various adventures.
We wanted to put this video out there to show that traveling full time is not all hearts and rainbows. Cupcakes and puppy dogs. Unicorns and, hummm, whatever. There is another side to full timing. The “disconnect” that some of us may feel. We hope this video helps paint a larger, more complete picture of the full timing lifestyle by mentioning something you may have not thought about if looking to go full-time.
Thank You for watching.
Posted on September 6th, 2016 by Brenda.B
OK….So I am really excited to tell you about this! David ordered this Instant Pot DUO 60 in Amazon Prime Day about a month ago and we have been really enjoying it.
Now, let me tell you first of all how this all came about. I knew nothing about pressure cookers, knew no one that had a pressure cooker. So when David said that he wanted to get this and try it out, I was, to say the least, a little skeptical and very intimidated. I mean….a pressure cooker? Are you crazy! We could blow ourselves up!
Umm…..not so fast. First of all, not only is this an electric pressure cooker but it’s also is a slow cooker, rice cooker, stew cooker, meat cooker, soup maker, saute’er and yes, you can even make yogurt with this thing! I’m sure I’ve even left a few things out that this appliance can also do. There’s just so much it can do and think about how many appliances you could get rid of with just using this one thing. We all know space is limited in a motor home/rv. How great would it be to get rid of all those things and replace it with just this one item!
Now, unlike like the older stove top pressure cookers were you have heard the horror stories about how they could blow up if you were not careful or if you walked away and were not paying attention to it or if you didn’t seal it properly or what ever the case may be. Hopefully you were not one of those stories. These types of stories are what fed my apprehension.
So when David said that he wanted to get this thing, I was not too sure.
So when the box came in, here is were David and I differ. I open it up and first thing I do is get the manual out and start reading about all the does and don’ts. David on the other hand, gets the Instant Pot (IP) out, washes it, plugs it in, throws some rice and water in it, seals the lid, pushes the rice button and declares, “Well, we’ll see what happens. Will we or won’t we get rice?”
Umm….the manual says we should do a water test first to make sure it seals properly and comes to pressure properly. Then, and only then, does it say we can start cooking in it. Oh well…too late for that now. The rice was already in. The pressure was already building. This thing, I mean, this Instant Pot, seemed to be working. We sat there patiently (well, some of us were inpatient, I will leave that for you to decide whom that was) while the rice cooked away. Once the pot came to pressure and sealed, we sat there. Waiting and waiting. Watching the count down. Wondering if we would have something edible. Yes, we watched it the entire time. Fascinated by it, the noises it made, then the eerie silence after it built up the pressure and “clicked”. Then it sat, just cooking away.
A little while later, low and behold, the IP beeped and told us it was done. We released the pressure and opened the lid, after I read in the manual on how to do this of course.
We had rice! Oh my! This thing actually worked and we had rice. And it was good. And cooked thoroughly. And we didn’t heat up the kitchen with our rice cooker steaming away. Creating all sorts of heat and steam in the motor home. This IP thing just sealed, cooked rice and wallah! No heat builds up. I may like this thing after all. (TIP: Yes, when you release the pressure steam does poor out and surely would be in the RV. However, David moved it over to under the microwave fan intake vent port and turn the fan on. All the steam, well most, was sucked up and out of the coach. So if your microwave is vented…consider this a good tip and be sure to thank David.)
The next matter of business was to look in our fridge and freezer and figure out what we could make for dinner. Or rather, what David could make. I was still very intimidated by this new fangled thing in my kitchen. Besides, I wasn’t done reading the manual yet. Although, I have to admit, it was growing on me. I could see some possibilities and usefulness to this.
So we had this rice thing down. We figured well…let’s start off small. So David did some more rice and added some spices to it to make a Mexican style rice. I on the other hand got out my electric skillet and made a stir-fry. Yes, I still needed time to, umm, bond with this pressure cooker.
OK….so fast forward a few weeks and we both have been cooking up a storm. I have discovered a FaceBook community about all things Instant Pot. Recipes, do’s and don’ts and the most important thing…accessories. Yes, their are a bunch of accessories that you can decide on whether you really want/need them or not. You can of course cook in the IP without any such accessories. However, some accessories do make things easier.
You can use the IP for steaming veggies, pot stickers or pierogies, all of which we have done and all take only a couple minutes. Literally 2 minutes if not less (once it’s up to pressure). I found this bamboo streamer tray that works well for these types of foods that fits perfectly, with its lid and everything, into the IP.
If I don’t want to use the bamboo trays I bought, at Walmart, a simple silicone steamer basket that works well for veggies and potatoes for potato salad.
Oh yes…making potato salad is a breeze now. No more boiling a big pot of water for the potatoes and another for the eggs, building up heat and steam in your rig. Oh no, now I peel and cut up the potatoes and put them in my steamer basket in the IP, lay the eggs right from the fridge on top of the potatoes and in 4 minutes on high pressure, I have perfectly cooked potatoes and hard-boiled eggs for potato salad. Yes, you read that right. 4 minutes. Perfectly cooked potatoes and hard-boiled eggs. I won’t try to explain the pressure and heat and everything behind it. I couldn’t even begin to tell you. It’s science people. Just trust me in knowing that it works perfectly every time.
One of the things I learned while reading posts up on the Instant Pot Community FaceBook page is that no matter how much you clean it, the silicone sealing ring can leave a smell to it. Or God for bid, you have guests coming over for dinner and you find out that you have used your IP silicone rings to death and they are splitting apart or are no longer holding a seal or have just completely broken in half. After a while, these things can happen. However, IP says that you should get at least a good year out of them. Time will tell though. So, having some extra rings around will help in those situations but it will also help in keeping the savory things savory and sweet things sweet. You really don’t want to make something sweet and find out when you bite into it that it has a slight onion taste to it. So these blue and red silicone rings are really easy to keep the sweet and savory separated.
Believe it or not, but you should believe it because I am showing you, is one of the big things to make in the IP is cheesecake!!! Yes….you read that right…you can bake in this thing too! However finding a springform, or any pan, to fit into the IP was a harder issue. The typical ones you find at the stores are usually 9 inches round. That would be too big. So the people up on the community had found this 7 inch springform pan that fits perfectly inside the 6qt pot.
So yes people…I made my first ever, not just in the IP but also ever in my life, cheesecake. With the help of my friend Trish, we both attempted our first cheesecakes ever. She made a peanut butter cup one and I made a black raspberry one. It was so simple and turned out so perfect that David asked when I was making the next one. Umm….I don’t think we want to make a habit of making cheesecake all the time. However it is a great size to share with friends and not have a ton of left over cheesecake that is calling your name at 2 in the morning. Not that I know anything about that.
So yes, this Instant Pot is great for RVing. It’s super easy to learn and makes some great food. I won’t bore you with everything that we have made, but some of what we have made has been… meatloaf with potatoes and carrots, all in one pot at the same time, of course the ever talked about potato salad, cheesecake, because who doesn’t love cheesecake. Well, I guess if you’re lactose intolerant then you wouldn’t.
But I’ve also made a great banana bread that was incredibly moist. Usually when I made this in my oven it would be dry. Not so with the IP. The pressure-cooking really keeps the moisture in, so your baking that you may do will turn out amazing with how moist it is.
Just to name a few things…pasta and meatballs, all in one pot. Cook time is half the time listed on box for pasta. So, 4 minutes and you have perfectly cooked pasta and meatballs. Sausage and peppers mixed with pasta (which I did cook separately because the pasta would have been moosh. Honey Garlic Chicken, also one pot. Tex-Mex Chili Mac (one pot), Sweet Corn on the Cob (3 minutes), a whole chicken, meatloaf, pierogies, pot stickers, macaroni and cheese. So much more. I don’t want you drooling on your computer so I’ll stop there.
This has really made life so much easier. In the sense that:
1: It doesn’t heat up your kitchen. So when it’s 95 degrees out and you don’t want to cook because it’ll heat up your rv even more, this won’t. Plus the added bonus of no steam build up in the rv based on my smart husbands above tip in venting it.
2: Very versatile. You can pressure cook, slow cook (so you can still use your slow cook recipes on slow cook or convert them to pressure cook time), rice cooker, saute meats, steam pot stickers, make corn on the cob all with 1 cup of water! Anything.
Well….I shouldn’t say anything. There are some things that I will not make in the IP. Like baby back ribs. Yes, lots of people do it. Just look up on the FB community. However, David and I prefer to slow cook ours on our Kamado grill all day. Steaks and hamburgers are another thing I will not cook in the IP. Yes, people do, but why? Some things are just better on the grill.
So I had to tell you all about this great pressure cooker thingy called the Instant Pot. It’s great for the rv and traveling. You can have home cooked meals with a lot less effort. However, one thing to keep in mind is that it is not indeed “instant”. Yes, it cooks fast. Pasta in half the time on the box. Corn on the cob in 3 minutes. Potatoes and eggs in 4 minutes. However, it still has to come up to pressure. Which doesn’t really take that long. However it can be a while if you put frozen meat in it. Yes, you can indeed cook right from frozen in this. So keep that in mind when planning your meals. What may take just as long as the traditional way that you make it (my friend’s cheesecake took 50 minutes, mine 25), it still saves you time in effort, watching the oven, getting out and dirtying multiple pots and pans, heating up your whole place, etc.
So in my eyes it is totally worth it. We are both enjoying coming up with new dishes to try as well as converting our usual dishes to work in the pressure cooker mode. I highly recommend the Instant Pot for your home, rv or where ever. And for those of you that have a larger family or like a lot of leftovers for lunches, and trust me, you will have lots of left overs, they make an 8qt Instant Pot also. For you techies out there, they even have a Bluetooth enabled one! I’m shocked that David didn’t get that one being the techie that he is but I am sure if it was Wi-Fi and not Bluetooth he would have. :) There’s an Instant Pot to suit whatever your needs. For that I am sure.
(Wow! Who would have thought I would have said that!)
Posted on August 26th, 2016 by David.B
Ok, this has been talked about A LOT by others, and by that I mean the product WeBoost Drive 4G-X. But we get asked often, as you may guess, about how “WE” are doing phone and data on the road and if we have made any changes over the years. The answer is YES we have now made a big change.
So after all the things I have seen and read on the WeBoost Drive 4G-X, I had to get my hands on one and see what all the fuss was about. Now let me say this upfront, it is not inexpensive. It is quite a hit in the wallet actually. Especially when you consider to get the best performance you would also want an outside mounted antenna and that new WeBoost 4G antenna alone is not cheap. The Drive 4G-X comes in two kits, the WeBoost Drive 4G-X and the Drive 4G-X OTR. The OTR comes with the new, powerful, 4G antenna and is the way to buy it if you want both, as the kit is less expensive than buying the Drive 4G-X and new antenna separately. Even though it is not inexpensive, if you require the best chance at cell and data coverage and speed, as we do, then it surely will cost you. But is it worth the price?
Now I will say we still believe that there is a place for the less expensive Drive 4G-S Sleek if you do not require multi user. We have used the Sleek for many years for our data needs, as we would place our phone or JetPack in the cradle and have increased performance. It has serviced us very well and is much less expensive, as it is meant to be used by one device. It is also 50% less powerful then the Drive 4G-X, which has the most power output, allowed by the FCC. If you already have the Sleek and are happy…Great!!! However…You will want the new 4G-OTR Cellular Antenna to replace the old one. The old one in the 2100Mhz frequency bands actually hurt your signal as it reduced it. The new one now does what it should and boosts it in that frequency band. (4G LTE lives in that band as it can be from 700-2100 Mhz depending on your provider.)
But now our needs have changed, as well as technology, and as such we have now changed right along with it. The Drive 4G-X offers us multi device connections, as well as greater power and thus reach than we have ever had before. This comes off as better cell coverage with less drops and increased data speeds, especially on the uploads. So to us…YES…It is worth the price of admission.
IMPORTANT NOTE: NO BOOSTER, none, nada, zippo, will do you any good in a poor signal area. In order to boost something, you need something to boost. If you have no signal, or very poor signal, their is nothing to be boosted. This is why a larger gain antenna is important as the antenna is used to bring that signal in from further away as well as transmit out over longer distances. I mention this as sometimes, ok a lot of times, someone says it does not work without understanding HOW it works. “It did nothing for me. I had no signal and I still have no signal.” Well, hello, yeah! So you get this important fact…right? Hope so.
As far as where or how to mount it…That’s your call! :) But for us I removed the older Wilson Trucker antenna I had mounted to the roof and replaced it, in the same place and with the same mount plate, with the new WeBoost 4G antenna. NOTE…The cable is attached directly to the antenna, no clue why they would do this, so you cannot use the existing cable that you may have already run. (Grrrrrr) So I clipped off the cable from the old antenna and was able to pull the new antenna cable wire through using the old cable. Behind the front cab cabinets is A LOT of space. So getting into that area to get the cable is not an issue. And seeing we chose to mount it all up in the front, I did not need to run the cables anywhere else. Yippee!!!!
You see, the WeBoost Drive 4G-X uses an inside Plate/Patch/Directional antenna that is good for about 3 maybe 4 feet away from it. So seeing we sit in the front of the coach, it actually does provide us with improved service from the driver and co-pilot seat. But more important is that the JetPack is located right next to it! As such, it gets all the performance it needs!!! (Which is very important to us.)
I made a video talk about the WeBoost 4G-X which is about 11 minutes long. I talk about what it does, some things you need to be aware of, but also, I show On/Off demos on the gains you receive not only in the signal, but also in download and upload speeds. Yes, others have done this for this product. But hey…you asked. Well maybe not “you” per say…but whatever.
So please watch the video and then you can decide if the WeBoost Drive 4G-X is right for you. I hope this helps and I am sorry in advance if I once again cost you money. ;)
Posted on August 16th, 2016 by Brenda.B
Out with the old and in with the new. That’s how the saying goes.
For us it was just a matter of preference. You see, when we built the Bott Lott all we had available was a standard fire ring. A small old car rim that was the standard campfire ring for the campground and that just wasn’t what we wanted. Sure we tried to dress it up with rocks around the outside but it was still too small for our taste. We would prefer to have a nice, large fire pit. In this case, size does matter ;)
To be able to stack a bunch of wood in there and just let it go for hours is great! No…I will not start singing, “Let It Go” here. I will not do that to you.
So David started his search. At first we thought, why not just get a tractor tire rim? That would be big enough. And let’s face it, the campground that we have our seasonal site at is in the middle of all these farmer’s fields. So finding one shouldn’t be an issue. But then the wheels kept turning in David’s head. See what I did there…wheels turning :) Ha!
He scoured the web and found this really awesome company, Earth Stones, Inc, that recycles granite from countertops and such and makes rounded blocks out of them, for giant fire pits. Perfect!
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
Recycled granite fire pit it was. After all, we like to be different and we loved the fact that it is all recycled material and the people at Earth Stones, Inc really take the time to match granite pieces alike and make sure everything lines up and builds out properly before it ships out.
Once our order arrived, all 1000lbs of it, our first order of the day was to spread all the stones out and figure out which ones we wanted on the top ring. The owner, John, had already marked a couple layers he thought we might like for a top….and he was spot on.
Once we picked out our top layer, David got hard to work at leveling the area. This is the most important step that should not be skipped nor rushed. Of course, leave it to David to borrow a laser level and two 4-foot levels. Just to be sure everything, at every angle, is level. Once you start laying your stones, if you are unlevel in any way, it will be all that more pronounced when you build up and up and up.
Once he was happy with the leveling of the area, it was time to get to work of stacking the blocks. However, it’s not a good idea to just stack them all willy-nilly. There must be an order. Colors need to be considered. And yes, making sure that every block is level front to back and side-to-side is important. I say this because as a reminder, this is all recycled material. So one color may be a little thicker than another, some may fall a little differently so that their edges won’t line up just right. It’s not the manufacturers fault, it’s just the way natural stones can be and when you start mixing and matching colors, variations will apply. They are rough-cut, rough edges. The only polished parts are the tops. And that is the real beauty of these. Not every fire pit is going to look the same. They are all unique and different. That’s what we love about it.
Once David had everything stacked the way we both agreed upon, colors matching, spacing considered and such, it was time to take it all down.
Yup…he spent this whole time constructing the fire pit, only to take it all apart again.
But there’s a method to his madness. One of the things that the company, Earth Stones Inc, includes in this fire pit “kit” is some high heat silicone. Think about it for a second. What do people naturally do when they are around a fire pit?
Sing? Make S’Mores? Cook hot dogs? Tell jokes?
Well…yes, but one of the things that comes naturally to people is they lean back and put their feet up on the edge of the fire pit. Hopefully not melting his or her shoes at the same time like someone who will remain nameless. (Mike)
This is very common and with this being a granite fire pit with the tops of all the blocks polished to a nice gleaming shine, they can slip and move very easily. Yes, each block weighs around 6lbs but you put your feet up to rest and it’s very easy to move them. You certainly don’t want your blocks falling into the fire and you certainly don’t want to deal with rebuilding your layers if they happen to shift.
So the solution…high heat silicone. A little dab will do ya. No need to glob it on. We were able to secure all the layers with the one container of silicone, with some to spare.
So time to deconstruct what David just built. We very carefully and methodically took the blocks off, one by one, layer by layer. Laying them out all around us in a pattern. So every layer that we constructed in the beginning was the same layer that we put back, in the same order. Dabbing a little bit of the silicone on every block, every end, so that the next layer would adhere to that previous layer. Making sure that the silicone would tack up. Which was also important because if you moved too fast, the block would slip around when you pushed down on it. Then giving it a full 24 hours to completely cure and secure.
All these little things we learned along the way of building our fire pit. All these little tips that hopefully will help any of you if you care to build your own.
We’re very happy with how this fire pit turned out. I feel that David did a wonderful job on building it (I was just the helper) and picking out the colors and such. Even thinking so far ahead that he put a line of black blocks in the middle of the circle. A great stand out design.
Now everyone that comes to our Bott Lott loves the fire pit and we’ve had some wonderful memories. Watching movies and concerts on our big movie screen with a great fire, enjoying a cocktail with friends or just sitting around it telling stories. The spacing between the blocks really gives the fire a lot of breathing room and airflow. Once a fire is lit, it just goes…and goes…and goes.
A big Thank You to John and the guys at Earth Stone because they were so helpful with the questions we had etc. BTW…If you like what you see here and you think a recycled granite fire pit might be a good addition to your property (which in my humble opinion it totally would be), just mention that you found out about them here on this blog or mention the “Bott Lott’ and you will receive a $25.00 discount on your order. Thanks again John for this opportunity for our OOBies!
We have not received any compensation for this. We just like to highlight a great company that really has some great customer service and is trying to truly do good by recycling what they can into some really beautiful products. John liked our post and thought he would offer the discount to our readers. (Darn it, we paid full price! :))
Posted on August 8th, 2016 by David.B
It’s time to announce our 2nd Annual “OOBerfest” in Quartzsite! Last year turned out great and we had such a good time that we surely wanted to try it again! (CLICK HERE to see post from last OOBerfest) So below is who, what, & where as it stands now so you can make plans to attend and become an “OOBie” if not already one from last year. For as you may know, we love our OOBies! Don’t worry, the induction ceremony is painless. (for the most part.)
Like last year, we will start right before the first weekend the Big Show opens. So here is the quick info on it…ALL ARE WELCOME NO MATTER WHAT YOU DRIVE….
When: Jan 19-22, 2017
Where: Quartzsite, AZ – Plomosa Road – End of BLM camping area.
(Here is the exact location we will be —> Google Maps of our location – CLICK (with GPS info.)
Why: Just for Kicks and to meet others.
Bring: Firewood, Full Water Tank, Empty Gray and Black Tanks, Generator, scorpion bite kit (kidding), stories and anything else that may add to the experience.
CUT OFF DATE: January 1st, 2017 (We need to know how many by this point so to save space best we can.)
More information on the 34th Annual RV Show can be found HERE.
Here is a video made from last year’s OOBerfest during Pot Luck dinner…
GATHERING INFORMATION – Last Updated 9/20/2016
Thursday, January 19th – Arrival Day
* Arrive when you can today. Yippee! (Brenda and I will be arriving on the 17th to try to block off desert space. Special thanks again to Dave for helping last year.)
* We will try to arrange the coaches and RV’s, facing inwards along two lines. As you arrive and turn off into the desert, just look for our logo (8×10 paper signs) to make your way back to our group area and see one of us, or other volunteers (hint), for where you should park.
* 5:00PM – OOB Attendees Introductions and meet your hosts David and Brenda and ask the questions you may have for us.
* 7:00PM – Bonfire where you again can meet other OOB attendees and learn what the RV show is like and what to expect. Also tips and tricks on how to conserve RV resources in the desert. Please bring in some firewood to help out with our fires or we will be kind of cold.
Friday, January 20th
* 9:00AM – Coffee & Donuts chat at the campfire area. Grab your favorite mug filled with your coffee, tea or liquor of choice and join us for a donut and chat with fellow RV’ers.
* 11:00AM – Currently Open Time Slot
* 1:00PM – Tech Talks – Have questions, we may have an answer or at least an opinion. After all, RV’ers help RV’ers so come join in on the questions and also help with the answers around the fire ring.
* 3:00PM – Currently Open Time Slot
* 5:00PM – UAV’s and the Art of Movie Making – Interesting topic by one of the few currently FAA licensed video UAV pilots. From movies to TV shows, see hows it is done and hear some stories.
* 7:00PM – Movie Night! Come join us for a movie under the stars. (Movie yet to be determined.) If weather does not cooperate, we will do this Saturday.
* Bonfire!!! (Again, please bring wood to help out.)
Saturday, January 21st
* The Big RV Show opens. If you have never attended the show before, be prepared for a crazy time of people, food, and of course products of all sorts. From full motor coaches to replacement valve stems, you will find it at Quartzsite. Drive into town and make a day of it. Of course, feel free to go along with other OOB members that you have met to team up and car pool.
* 5:00PM – Pot Luck Dinner. Bring a dish to add to the table. (which reminds me, bring tables.) No idea what we may end up with, but that’s the fun of a pot luck. So grab your drink, plate, utensils, and chair and eat up. (We ask that food be placed at least by 4:50PM)
* 7:00PM – Bonfire CampJam with Special Guests Scott and Thomas… Notes from Neptune!
Sunday, January 22nd
* The RV Show continues and so does your shopping. :)
* This is also departure day, if you so choose, as we have nothing planned other than a campfire. We do know most will stay till Monday for who really wants to leave after a day of shopping. :)
* Bonfire!!! For anyone still around or that is not too tired from all that shopping.
ATTENTION FIRST TIMERS TO QUARTZSITE:
Ok, a quick few things. First…What you bring into the desert, you will bring out. Leave no footprint. When you arrive, you will need to check in with the BLM Host right when you turn on to Plomosa road. (No charge) Then you will head further down to road to find us.
You will be in the desert and will have NO HOOKUPS! Therefore you will need to be sure to have a full water tank and empty black and gray tanks. You should also have fuel for your generator. If you do not have a generator or enough solar panels to run your coach, this really is not for you as you will need power as well as heat. So conserving is the key, so bring and use paper plates, plasticware, and cups. Things that do not require washing! We will go over some tricks as to how you can conserve the first evening.
There is a service in town called the “Pit Stop” where they will empty your tanks and fill your water with good water. They can also fill your propane tanks.
Even though there is a SMALL grocery store in town, it is not cheap. So bring in any food you will want. There are also a few restaurants.
For trash there is a local dump right down the road as you go into town with limited hours. Best thing is to use larger garbage bags and when needed, drop it off on the way into town.
Other than that GOOD LUCK! :)
Ok OOBies….We are working on this year T-Shirt design that you will be able to order at cost from Cafepress when it is ready. We will send out the link to purchase to the email list when available.
If you are not already on our Quartzsite email list, see below, or we missed you and you want to join us, PLEASE let us know by using our contact us page to be added to our list or leave a comment below. January 1st, 2017 is the cut off date as we need to know how many by that point so we can save space. Thanks!
61 Currently On Our List (Please be sure you are on it. Last Updated 9/28 8:42AM ET)