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Need Electricity?
Written By: OC Fotoguy
*Click images below to view larger versions.
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
 Need Electricity?
So you say (talking to myself), life was not meant to be easy and I don’t need all those conveniences of home, that include screen devices, apps, Instagram, Utube, etc., microwaves, air conditioning & heat, automatic appliances, and all those other things most people think and call necessities.  I lived in a pup tent 26 miles deep in America’s jungle, Big Cypress, right next door to the EverGlades without anyone else there within miles for weeks and now in your nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck) has all the conveniences that your tent had.  In addition to a dry place to sleep, which the tent was too, you have a refrigerator and gas stove, both powered by propane gas and a water system.  You put two (2x3’) solar panels on the nest’s roof to collect solar energy that is converted to reddy kilowatts of electricity to power your computer and radio.  The tent didn’t have that, but eighteen years ago when I started these adventures, I hardly knew what a computer was or had a need for one.  I’ve learned to charge up the deep cell marine batteries, that store the energy from the solar panels before you start and when you can as you travel from an electrical outlet.  That gives me electricity use, so I can use my computer to process, edit and store my photos, store & play music, and write articles for my travel column.  I’ve ripped (recorded) many C/Ds from libraries, digitized a bunch of my 1960s & 70s rock records, and I’m recording the fantastic live bands at the Green Parrot, plus John LaMere’s performances and antics at Willie Ts, and Kevin Poole at the Conch Republic here in Key West.  I listen to my music library with the laptop and great little speakers.  All’s well and I’m lovin’ life.  I’m a happy cat as everything has been working peachy keen!
Ripping C/Ds is an easy process; just put it in the disk drive, and follow the computer’s gremlin prompts.  I bought a device, an Interface Mixer Preamp, product #20216, software & instructions for $70, plus an Audio To USB Sound Card Adapter for a laptop computer, product #20869 for $39 from DAK Industries, INC., 2691, West 15th Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11224 (  They coached me for a couple of weeks via an exchange of many emails til I got it to work.  To record live music I decided to try a small recorder, that B&H Photo (TASCAM DR 40 Recorder recommended to record bird calls.  I don’t record many birds, but it’s doing really well with bands.  I learned to do it by trial and error.  I was getting a lot of distortion from bands, but when I just recorded one person singing with an acoustic guitar, it worked pretty good.  Then I saw someone using a microphone with foam rubber wrapped around it when they were recording.  So I wrapped an old sock around the micro phones of my recorder.  The distortion disappeared! Then I went through the settings, found the input volume and reduced it to half, and the quality of a band’s sound improved dramatically.  Then I noticed when I stood in a crowd with people in front of the microphone end of the recorder, and it did even better!  Why was that better?  I have no idea, but there’s lots I don’t understand!
Then, a couple weeks ago on the Wednesday before Martin Luther King’s Birthday Holiday weekend, whoops, what’s that noise?  I hadn’t heard it for a while, but I knew.  It was the inverter’s alarm.  The inverter changes the electricity collected by the solar panels to AC from DC.  Something else I have no understanding of.  The alarm means the batteries were getting low of electricity.  It was only a couple days til when I could move to a parking space where there’s an electrical outlet in the County Court House parking lot.  There would not be any police working on the long weekend since there was no court or county business, so I could plug in and charge up.
Friday night after wonderful kayaking to the end of Fleming Key and walking back from Simonton Beach, I backed my truck into the space, hooked up my charger to one of the batteries, but nothing happened?  I got one of my camera battery chargers, plugged it in, and the charging light didn’t light.  The outlets were dead.  There is another outlet over in the corner of the lot.  I walked over there, plugged in the charger, and nothing!  Hmmmmm!  That’ll limit my computer use, but I can go to the library once in a while, plug in, and use it there.  I still had the radio.  There’s two good FM radio stations here (104.9, the X & 96.9, Pirate Radio).  I may listen to them online when I get back to Ocean City.  As I walked to Willie Ts to listen to Gurd Boyc, a very good musician from Germany, I thought, no crisis, I don’t need a computer every day. 
The next day I woke up and turned the radio on.  All I could get was strange static.  I tested all the batteries, replaced a weak one, turned it on again, and got the static.  I guess I’ve lost the radio, too!  Not good; it can be replaced, and it was time for my morning walk.  Rain was threatening, where’s my umbrella?  Whoops, it’s gone too!  I was several places where I could’ve left it yesterday.  I checked them, but I was umbrella less.  It can be replaced, too, and I still had my rain coat, so off for a walk.  At HH I was told there may be electrical outlets in a park beside the Fort on A1A near the airport, so Monday I drove there, but found none.  Next door, though, was the Department of Motor Vehicles, which was closed on the holiday.  There was an electrical outlet by the front door.  It was live, but it’s so obvious that I was using it to anybody going up and down that busy street.  I gave in to the temptation, though, and plugged in, but decided to stay at my truck in case someone objected.  I charged up one battery to 60%.  It took three hours, it was 1pm, so I switched the charger to the other battery and did the same.
I noticed the sail boats that were racing were across the street out in the ocean.  I got my camera, waited for the sails to receive light from behind, which made them glow.  Great photos!  I glanced back at the camper.  There was a car partially hidden by the building, but it looked like a state trooper.  As I got closer I could see the emblem on the door; OMG!  It was.  I snatched the extension cord from the outlet, unplugged it from the camper, tossed it in the camper, and hurriedly prepared my nest to move.  Then there was a knock on the door!  Yep, it was the fuzznik.  He was cordial, commented about the bumper stickers on my nest, about my camper, and then asked about me being plugged in.  I lied, said I was, but the plug didn’t work.  He spent a couple minutes trying to think where I could plug in!  Then asked for my driver’s license (I thought here comes the big ticket.), called in to check me for outstanding warrants, gave it back, walked away back towards his vehicle, and said over his shoulder, “don’t plug in again.”  I got by!!! I had plenty of electricity!  Just so lucky!  I guess I do need electricity!
A couple days later I was parked near the entrance to Zachary Taylor State Park. I looked at an electric poll nearby and there were outlets!  No, I wasn’t doing it again.  I had an adequate amount of Reddy Kilowatts and I know when enough is enough! 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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