In a tiny moment of sheer genius and all-encompassing understanding, I grapsed my solar needs, took the plunge and ordered my solar panel kit from Mr. Solar. After much tedious research these past few days, I think I'm finally understanding the whole amp/watt/solar debacle (I'm certain it will all be forgotten manana). The kit I ordered for Yatz (should have known her name would be shortened pronto) includes a 64w solar panel, a tilt mount, mounting hardware and a controller. I have the Group 27 batteries from my boat so I'm all good there, and also my little flex solar panel (from the boat as well) to add to the amp kitty. I should be in really good shape once I figure out how to set the dang thing up. In other breaking MST news, today my mom made the best pot of pinto beans and southern style cornbread I have ever had and I helped myself to three servings in about ten minutes flat. I love being home! Oh, and me and my dad did a little paint job inside Yatz--no biggie, just matching up some color scheme that was already in place (once it's all said and done, I will post before and afters). Also managed to snatch up a legal registration/title for her at the courthouse today---had the whole dang place in a frenzy trying to figure out how to email a document. The courthouse practically had to shut down for that one!
Really, what I want to say is that remote, off-grid, alternative living is complicated and confusing as hell. The easy part is picking out where to travel to. Anywhere that is reachable by vehicle is fair game...warmer climates especially (re: the whole of Central America). The hard part is setting your little rig up right. There are so many elements to contend with: solar panels (how many watts do you need), how many amp hours do you need (huh?), battery banks (which type are best), inverters (don't even get me going), propane (how the hell do you refill the tank), leveling the mama out on hilly terrain, what color to paint the walls, storage/storage/storage, should I do bamboo shades or cute little curtains, DC and 110 power (one more time, which is which?), and on and on. The reason to undertake the rigging of a supremely vintage travel trailer or a classic good old boat (which I'm about to figure out next week in the BVI's) has to be for the MAD, MAD challenge of it all. When I can walk away from either of those little beasts, knowing that I can RUN power off the sun and can literally set up shop anywhere I feel safe with a lovely vista, well then consider it a job well done. If I can make it work on the boat, I know I can make it work on Yachtita. It's just gonna take a little time. But first, tomorrow I paint the inside. Then, much like the boat, there are cushions to cover, shelves to install, water tanks to clean (though I got a head start on that today), etc....I'll be like mountain man before you know it--catching fish and skinning wild animals for the warmth of their fur. Good Christ~~
Since I moved to East Rogers Park last year, rarely do I stray farther than a mile or so from LSD. Life on the lake is a little more relaxed, a smidge more low-key and definitely a whole lot more fun. But, sometimes I get a hankering for a new exploration, one that isn't all about Latin American food, windy days and lime-tinged cuba libres. In essence, I'm looking for the urban part of Chicago, not the one that is so stunningly beautiful it almost pierces my eyes each time I walk out the front door and see the crazy blue of Lake Michigan. It's during those moments when I crave the creative, old-school side of Chicago that I head over to Logan Square. To me, its environs feel like the working man's version of Wicker Park, an area that became a little too trendy for its own good.
Which brings me to Lula Cafe; I've only eaten there twice, and the
first time I went, I slugged one too many beakers of rum and couldn't
really remember much about the packed house, except that my waiter had
a too-cool-for-school attitude. Always willing to give a place another
go, though, I recently headed back with my bud Brad on a brilliant
sunshine-splashed afternoon for a tipple of liquor and some feel-good
Ahhhh, just a few hundred miles 'til I am home in TN with my little Yachtita. Yah, I've been MAD sick, but so what....being on such a long trip has just given me time to think about all the things I want to do to the trailer (various upgrades, solar panels, stocking her for C. America, etc...). And, seriously how funny is it that I now seem to roll with the truckers? They give me right of way always, I park where they park, I crawl in back of my rig to go to sleep...it just makes me laugh when I think about how quick life flips on a dime. One day I'm sailing on choppy Lake Michigan, the next I'm trippin' down a backroads highway in Arkansas making small talk with truckers about solar power. Life just seems to get quirkier every day, no?
Here is what I've noticed most about life on the make--be it via sailing vessel, trailer, backpacking, whatever--most of the folks that are out here actually "livin' the good life" are older and/or retired. That does not make sense to me at all. Why would I waste the prime of my youth/life working some baloney job just so I can be happy and finally feel alive when I retire at 65? Are you kiddin' me? Heck at the rate I'm going, by then--my body will most likely be shot to hell, my mind on the fringe of being erased, and my heart black as coal (almost there now, almost...). I think the time to do all this stuff (sail off into the sunset, travel through remote backcountry, volunteer 'til I can give no more, learn a new language, cruise around Central America in a vintage travel trailer, produce Pilates/Volunteer retreats in awe-inspiring foreign countries, etc...) is RIGHT NOW> While I still have my mad energy, my wacky (though often brilliant) ideas, my pure intentions, and my happy-go-lucky roaming nature. I can always to back to work whenever I want (and truth be told, I never stop working anyway). I just don't do traditional work...instead I create all these little opportunities based on my current set of interests and make that exact scenario my so called "job." Crazy as it seems, it all works out perfectly in my mind and slings me one step closer to complete and utter off-the-grid freedom. Isn't that what life should be all about? A collection of tiny, sometimes vague elements that make your mind/heart/soul soar? You tell me.
I finally made it to Colorado to get my little '67 trailer. Words can't even describe how cute this little monkey is and I can't even imagine how much fun I'm gonna have taking her through Central America. I'm currently hauling this 1500 lb. mini beast through the mountains of NewMexico on my way home and am stone exhausted with a full blown cold/flu. Go figure...I believe it came down the day I took the boat out of the water earlier in the week and now I'm paying the piper. No worries, though...nothing can detract from the straight up beautiful scenery, especially in New Mexico. I'm truly loving every minute of it and will spell out more details in the coming days~
The early morning definitely started off calm, cool and collected. But, by 2:00 pm when Lis and I arrived down at Crawley's Yacht Yard on the deep south side, it was dead hectic out on the water. Ahhh, but we made it! After tying down the dinghy on the bow, we delivered my little C & C sailboat to her winter home in record time (at least for me)--and we were hauling ass the entire way (seriously, we were never under 5.5 knots...more like 6.8). There was (per usual) a small craft warning on Lake Michigan--only two other sailboats were out with us--and by the end of the journey the swells were feeling like the high seas. We had a ball, though and I am now straight depressed that the sailing season is over. Thank god for my upcoming travels...especially the one to the BVI to check out another boat. It's in my blood, eh?
I am probably the last person in the universe to have read The Kite Runner, but I finally finished it. Bawled a hundred times, too. There was something so tragically painful about the way Afghanistan was presented in today's modern day vs. how it was before the war. But, what shot out at me from the pages were the short passages about Afghan food--which did nothing but remind me about a favorite hole-in-the-wall here in Chicago, The Afghan Restaurant (2818 W. Devon). I've raved about this family owned restaurant a million times before, and today might just be the day to head back over there for some tasty treats. Everything on the menu is cheap, slow-cooked, traditional & authentic, tender-to-the-bone, and straight up mouthwatering. If you've never had Afghan food, it's a bit like Indian, but much more flavorful and exotic....think beautiful Persian bounty.
I think that Montrose Harbor is the most beautiful harbor in Chicago and I just got so lucky this year to have my boat there (star dock). Usually you end up with a bouy down at Monroe, but somehow the God's were shining on me and I ended up at Montrose, just a few minutes from my place. Monday is the day the boat comes out of the water (yikes) and goes on the hard for SEVEN months. What a full catastrophe! But, I'm blazing on and on for the hunt for a new vessel--one already located in warm, tropical weather. After my trip to the BVI's in a few weeks to look at a 36' Cabo Rico, well..you just never know what will happen. Those are the sort of last minute, just-feels-right trips that spurn full life changes, you know? Here is a lovely photo of the BVI's, the playground for the new boat I'm checking out. I mean, I love Montrose, but man....this is some primo stomping grounds (see pix below). Could you imagine taking some time (lots of it) off and just cruising in these waters?
1. A few gifts I just got today from a lovely woman who has met me just once--a rad toilet paper holder for my little vintage travel trailer I'm going to pick up next week in Colorado and a very handy, very sporty headlamp. I mean, only a true explorer would know that those two gifts are straight GOLD to someone like me.
2. Newleaf Grocery (in East Rogers Park)--I am hooked on their $15 farm share. Seems like too little dough to pay for all kinds of local fruits and veggies every week. I made a rockin' wild dandelion green with goat cheese bruschetta this past weekend that was a major hit.
3. These crazy summer days--even though a tornado warning is on tap for tonight, this is some seriously great weather. Makes me want sunshine hitting my face all the time.
4. It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (Thursday's on FX)--literally the most hysterical show to hit the airwaves since Arrested Development and the original of The Office.
5. Money.com--it's my login page and keeps track of all the headline news for my stocks. So savvy and clever.
6. The very fact that I've still got tomatoes, green peppers and cukes still sprouting on my plants on the deck. Just the miracle beyond miracles.