Thursday, August 28, 2014

Urine Nation: Just Add Pineapple Juice

“The average person flushes the toilet five times a day, and four of those times are just for urine. This means that 80% of our flushwater—or over 4,000 gallons of clean water each year per person—is used just to get rid of urine! That is a lot of clean water used to transport ‘liquid gold’ into the sewer, where it becomes pollution. If we save it instead of flushing it, we can harvest a valuable resource that we can use in agriculture.” ** Rich Earth Institute, FAQ
A typical toilet flusher wastes “up to 22 liters of drinkable water every day, one three- to six-liter flush at a time. What follows…is the long and costly process of sanitizing the water that was clean before you answered nature’s call. Using so much water per flush unnecessarily increases the volume of our waste and the cost of its transportation and treatment, ecologists say…. The process also leaves a huge carbon footprint.” -Time Magazine


On my van camping trips, I hate to stop all the time to relieve myself often.  (Gas station and roadside restaurant bathrooms are typically quite disgusting.)  I had read about how truckers peed in bottles.  (Unfortunately, some bad truckers throw their full "pee bombs" out their windows on or near the interstate.  I've seen many of these full bottles on the sides of the roads.) 

At my local grocery store, I saw a Tropicana Farmstand bottle that looked perfect for use as a small "holding tank."  The bottle is great as it is well made and has a wide opening ;-)  (This blog pertains to guys specifically, we haven't figured out how this could work out for the ladies, YET!)

My urin collection bottle, Pineapple juice, and a lid for the Pineapple juice to store it.
The bottle has worked out great in the van.  I can go without stopping.  (My wife uses a Luggable Loo we have in the van.)  I dump the bottle when I get to a proper sanitary station.  If I am in the woods, I sometimes dump it in an area that looks like it could use moisture, far from surface water sources.

I've read that urine comes out sterile and is a fantastic fertilizer (when diluted) as it is full of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.  Many folks use it in their gardens. It's used in many nations as fertilizer and has been for centuries. There is a project in Vermont by Rich Earth Institute to grow crops using it [learn more] rather than using expensive petrolium and/or animal waste based fertilizers.

It struck me that I could save a heck of a lot of water if I used a bottle during the day at home and did not flush the toilet as often.  My toilet at home uses 1.6 gallons per flush.  Holy Cow that is a heck of a lot of perfectly clean water just to flush down a couple ounces of urine every time! 

I decided to get another Tropicana bottle and use it during the day, saving hundreds of gallons of water and flushing it all down once a day (when I had number two business to attend to).  I clean the bottle out each day after it is dumped.

There was a big problem.  Urine really stinks after it sits around all day in the bottle.

I started researching how to get rid of the smell.  I stumbled upon "10 strange pineapple facts" that describes how pineapple is used by, well let's just say, very sexually active folks to eliminate odors and bad tastes.  It got me thinking, "What if I added a little pineapple juice to the bottom of my pee bottle after I cleaned it each day?"

I have discovered that pineapple juice* does a great job of eliminating the bad odor created by urine sitting around all day.   This was a fantastic discovery and very practical to me!  Big cans of pineapple juice are cheap in the generic brand at my local grocery store, under 3 bucks for big cans.

So I've been storing my urine during the day for a few weeks now.   I was flushing it three or four times a day before this.  That is 3.5 flushes a day average (or more).  That is at least 5.6 gallons of totally wasted clean water a day if you flush every time!!!!  I figure I am home about 300 days a year (I work from home).  I can save 300 days x 5.6 gallons = about 1,680 gallons a year. Probably more like 2,000!

We use about 1,700 gallons of water a month at our town home (2 people - no private lawn) according to our local public utility.  That is 20,400 gallons a year.  That's nearly a 10% household water savings by me from using the bottle. That's pretty significant.

Imagine how much water could be saved if all the guys in, say, dry dry California or Nevada did this. Lake Mead might survive a few more years before going dry!

My next experiment is to use some diluted urine as a fertilizer for my house plants.  I've read that it is much better than commercial house plant fertilizers.  I'm wondering if the pineapple juice in the mix will cause a problem.  I suspect not.  Will it smell?  I plan to find out.  Others are successfully doing it.

Here is something to try at your next smelly campground.  If you find a not so sweet smelling pit toilet, try pouring a big can of pineapple juice into the pit.  I suspect the pit will smell much better for a while after that.  I tried it out at a local pit toilet and my nose detected a big difference for about a week!  I plan to pack a couple cans of pineapple juice in the van just for this purpose.

See if it works for you and let us all know.

* Nov 2014 - Update: I recently discovered that White Distilled Vinegar is also good at keep the odor down.  It might be cheaper also.  It knocks out the bad urine smell, but you do smell a vinegary smell.  It's not bad.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jeep Trekking - Crested Butte

Jeep looking well used after 1-1/2 days of back road trekking adventures
I wish we were more like the numerous blogs listed under the "Blogs We Love" button at the top of our page and were disciplined, predictable bloggers. But, while we are future full-timers, I will use work as my excuse for why we don't always blog chronologically or timely. But, nonetheless - enjoy this blog about our jeep trekking in early July around Crested Butte, Colorado.

Greg (on left) and his parents enjoying smores 'round the campfire
Greg's parents also live in Los Alamos. They moved here after we did to be closer to us. We share a love of camping. They have a Pleasure-Way camper van. They are now in the stage of life where driving more than 3 or 4 hours in a day is just a little too much for them. So, the four of us planned a 10-day joint adventure. Greg drove his Mom and her dog Jack in the Pleasure-Way and I drove Greg's Dad in our NV Van Camper. We started our adventure on the 4th of July. We drove to Crested Butte, Ridgway, Ouray, Durango and then back home to Los Alamos.

One of our plans was to rent a jeep and drive some of the beautiful backroads around Crested Butte. We timed our trip to be close to the peak of the wildflower bloom. We hit is right on. We stayed near  Almont, Colorado at One Mile Campground on Forest Road 742. We had a jeep reservation so Greg and I got up early and drove to Gunnison to pickup the jeep. Things didn't go well at the start. First, the person who was to meet us didn't show up until 1-1/2 hours after our set meeting time. We arranged to keep the jeep overnight and were on our way. Or so we thought. . .

After driving back to the campground, getting Greg's folks, the dog and our picnic stuff loaded into the jeep - Greg tried to start the Jeep. Nothing. Are you kidding me? Greg fiddled with the battery and battery cables. Nothing. We called the Jeep company.

The owner was very helpful. She and her husband drove out to our campsite and he worked on the Jeep. In the end, he put the battery from his car into our Jeep. We jumped the old batter and he drove somewhere to get himself a new battery. We were finally on our way about 2 p.m. It was too late to go to Gothic Road so we decided to check out Tin Cup. Our camp host told us about Taylor Park Reservoir and the little town of Tin Cup.

Picnic at Taylor Park Reservoir

A small portion of Taylor Park Reservoir

Mining town of Tin Cup
At the historic Tin Cup Cemetery. Folks are segregated by religion

Beyond the specific religion knolls - there is also a Boot Hill section

If you like historical cemeteries - this is a beautiful forested spot

After Tin Cup, we drove up Forest Road 267 to Mirror Lake

A jeep is definitely on our shopping list for the future 

We saw a number of great boondocking sites in the area between Tin Cup and Taylor Park Reservoir.
We also drove through Lakeview Campground (forest service) with amazing lake views.  

The second day, we headed through Crested Butte, past the ski resort to Gothic Road. The flowers were so vivid and beautiful! We stopped and took pictures along the way.

Gothic biological lab was founded in 1928
As we passed the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, we came to a Subaru that was stuck in a large wash filled with mud and water. When they saw our jeep, they ran over to see if we could help. The jeep we rented had a winch, but no obvious way to operate it. We all searched and finally found the device that plugs in and runs the winch. We were able to pull them out and then decided to turnaround and go up a different road. We had enough problems with the Jeep the day before - didn't want to risk getting stuck. There were a number of hikers watching the whole escapade.

How does this winch work? (Greg is on the far left)

Pulling the line from our Jeep to the stranded Subaru. Hella muddy

Happy campers following the rescue! 
We back tracked to Crested Butte and headed up Washington Gulch, past the abandoned mining town of Elkton and came down along the Slate River. We stopped at our favorite camping area "Oh Be Joyful" and we were!
Our beautiful picnic spot next to a great boondocking site up Washington Gulch
It was very windy up on the pass. Crested Butte is off in the far distance

We enjoyed being reminded how much we love jeeping

The windy road down to the valley. Great fun!

Cascading waterfall falling into the Slate River

The views were awesome

Closeup of the cascading waterfalls

Meandering Slate River

We encountered some rain, but overall the weather was perfect

Great campground west of Crested Butte called Irwin Lake. Many spots with views of this high alpine lake. 

Very joyful at "Oh Be Joyful" campground

Our little caravan near Blue Mesa Reservoir in the Curecanti National Recreation Area
Lunch stop and brief hike at Black Canyon of the Gunnison
We love this warning sign at Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Stunning views from Elk Ridge Campground in Ridgway State Park

Swim beach at Ridgway Reservoir inside the State Park.
Warning: they don't allow pets on the beach

The water was very refreshing
We spent a relaxing afternoon at Ouray Hot Springs which is a public pool in Ouray
Ouray Hot Springs has multiple pool areas with sulfur-free water ranging in temp
from 88 to 106 degrees. There are water slides, water volleyball and a
water obstacle course. The rates are $10 per day for seniors and $12 for adults 

Greg took his Go Pro for a ride down the water slide
Amazing sunset view from our campground at Ridgway
We spent one night at the United Campground in Durango. We love to stop
at Tremble Hot Springs. They have a cool swimming pool, a warm
hot spring pool, dry sauna and a large, lush lawn
surrounded by beautiful trees and flowers.
Greg and his Mom in the cool pool
It was a fun 10-day adventure. Greg and his Mom enjoy the evening campfire
I wrote a previous post showing the many beautiful flowers we saw while in the Crested Butte area. Click on the link to view:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rocky Mountain Monkey Adventure

Sock Monkeys made a new friend in the Rockies
Our sock monkey friends came along for our five day trek from Los Alamos, NM to Rocky Mountain National Park. Here is photo essay of their fun adventure! 

Leaving Los Alamos for our five day adventure

We drove through Abiquiu

Ah - the red rocks near Ghost Ranch

Beautiful views on the Million Dollar Highway from Durango to Ouray, Colorado

Wild turns on the Million Dollar Highway

Near the summit

We drove by Redstone Colorado

We love road trips

Great lunch on the shores of Lake Granby
Yeah! We made it to Rocky Mountain National Park

We love to hang out in the mountains!

Ridge Road from Grand Lake to our camping spot at Glacier Basin Campground

Rocky Mountain High

Scary road

Glacier Basin Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park

Bye Bye

Keep on Trekking

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