Charged up

Some years back we bought a Black & Decker cordless leaf blower to use at Second Chance Ranch. We already had a couple of plug-in electric blowers to use for yard cleanup, but we thought this light-duty model would be handier for sweeping patio and porch.

We soon discovered that it was almost useless — anemic power and pitiful battery life. A push broom was more effective and a lot less frustrating. Still, when we set out on our journey last year I threw it in the basement of the bus for blowing debris off our patio mat, slide toppers and so on.

In 19 months, we’ve never used it.

The other day I dragged it out and charged the 18V battery, somehow optimistic that we might find a role for it on The Mountain. As soon as I thumbed the switch, the motor began screeching. I shut it off, removed the housing and shot silicone spray where I thought it’d help.

This morning I tried again.

It ran quietly but, as before, it didn’t push enough air to move more than a light layer of leaves. After 15 minutes the battery began to wane and it slowed down, making it pointless to continue.

Fully charging the 3600mAh battery, by the way, takes nine hours.

This may be the right tool for someone, I suppose, but there’s no reason for us to keep it. We require more of the gear we deploy on The Mountain. Later today we gifted blower, battery and charger to our campground hosts, and they can sell it in their secondhand store.

Good riddance.

Speaking of charging batteries, acquiring those DeWalt power tools earlier this week put me in a mood to refresh pretty much everything else we have with us. Things like phones, vapes, tablets and laptop computers get plugged in daily (or at least routinely), but lots of other stuff lives out of sight and, naturally, out of mind.

There’s a cordless screwdriver upstairs and an old DeWalt drill in a basement bay, a pair of GMRS walkie-talkies and a handheld CB radio, my key-ring SureFires, several headlamps and a few handheld flashlights, and a rechargeable spotlight we keep in each vehicle.

Our backup power sources also drew my attention — not only the 500W station we use to stand-in for 12V power in the motorhome, but also a handful of smaller “bricks” stowed in the truck, the Jeep and our bug-out bags. And, as I said recently, I’ve been trickle-charging Ernie’s chassis batteries.

If I had a workshop with convenient AC outlets, I’d assemble everything on my workbench and plow through the task assembly-line-style. In the bus it’s a little more complicated, with chargers scattered all over the damned place — on the dinette, in the galley and in both bathrooms.

A few more devices, believe it or not, take conventional batteries — a couple of flashlights and the walkie-talkies we use when we park the bus. I’ll check those tomorrow or Monday.

It’s been two years since I last wrote about this chore, and I’m not complaining. Ritual recharging is part of living untethered, the price of convenience. I can deal with that.

I believe I’ll close today with an observation about what transpired on The Mountain yesterday. Shortly after work began, and in consultation with the crew, we had to make a series of decisions “on the fly.” Some of those were minor tweaks, while others had the potential to alter the character of our vision.

That’s pretty weighty stuff. This is our dream, after all, our Forever Home. It can be tough to compromise.

Yesterday it wasn’t.

As a practical matter, we understand the nature of building on undeveloped, rocky, unlevel ground. But something else is going on, and it’s not as easily described.

You’ve heard me talk about how Deb and I feel every time we’re on The Mountain, so it could be the place itself. Or maybe it’s the place we find ourselves — resolved, at peace, Home.

Whatever the reason, making those choices yesterday brought exactly zero stress. There was no anxiety, only understanding situations, walking through options and arriving at solutions.

It was remarkably easy.

Looking back now, I think I’ve figured it out — after all the years and all the tears and all the miles, at last we can see what matters.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

One year ago today, while Deb’s cousin was helping us clear trees downed by the backhoe the day before, one of our neighbors drove up in his side-by-side UTV. It was a well-maintained two-year-old Polaris Ranger 570, and the owner said it might be for sale.

Immediately Deb and I were smitten. We saw the possibilities that a go-anywhere buggy like that could unlock for us.

A few days later it was ours. Today we can’t imagine our American Life on The Mountain without it.

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