Starry Night, cold morning shower

I slept on the Lone Worm Ranch for the first time last night (11/30/2003) and it was one of the most peaceful rest periods that I have had in a long time. I have been under a lot of stress over the past six months, as my job hunt seems to have taken a turn for the worst. Being here in Texas away from my family has been an extra burden as I worry about how they are getting along without my help. I rarely get more than 4 hours of solid sleep on my good nights so sleeping for a solid seven hours was a treat.

I went to bed at about 9 PM after getting back from shopping at the Wal-Mart in Bastrop. I slept on a queen-sized mattress that I had purchased on sale at a furniture store’s after Thanksgiving sale on Saturday. I hauled it to the ranch from Austin on top of my car tied down to my bike rack bars. Assembly of the frame was a snap and I made the bed with supplies that I had brought back on the plane from my dad’s house in LA when I visited him a few weeks ago. I have not gone to bed before 10 PM in over a year.

Once I had turned off the generator and turned out my flashlight I opened up the blinds and looked out at the Texas night. The sky was partly cloudy but I could still see lots of stars and a beautiful cresset moon from my window. Way off on the horizon I could see the light pollution of Austin 50 miles away on the horizon. The dark silhouettes of the oak and mesquite trees made a nice edge for the night sky to kiss the horizon. I lay back on the bed and went to sleep.

About 4:30 AM I woke up ready to go, but the day was not here and it was quite dark. I walked into the kitchen nook, sat down in my camouflaged canvas hunting chair, and gazed through the three adjoining windows at the night sky. The clouds from earlier in the evening had moved away and a full night sky of stars greeted me. I sat there and wondered about the early settlers of this land. I thought about how they might have lived. I sat and enjoyed the silence and then a shooting star trailed to earth off to my right. I have observed many meteorites in my life on camping trips out in the deserts of California and eastern Oregon. I have never seen a shooting star sitting inside a house before. I decided to try to get some more sleep. Normally with easy access to electrical powered devices I would have stayed up, powered up my laptop computer, and started searching the job boards. This early morning was not to be the case. I did not have access to the Internet form the ranch yet and I did not want to fire up the generator. I decided to force myself to get more rest as I was recovering from a mild cold that I did not want to get worse.

To my amazement I woke up five hours later around 9 AM. I guess I am catching up on too many nights of 3 hours of sleep. I went outside and fired up the generator so that I could start the pump. The pump system has an 80 gallon pressurized reserve tank so the pump is no on all the time. With no power I can flush toilets and run water until the tank is empty. Under normal conditions when there is full time power the pump will come on when pressure in the tank goes below 40 PSI and shuts off at 75 PSI. I have the pump breaker turned off so that it will only come on after the generator is on full speed and when I want to pump water. It is bad for the pump to come on if the generator is not running on full capacity or is in the process of shutting down. Normally with full electrical power the backup generator will kick on within 11 seconds of a power failure and then stay on a few minutes after power is restored. When I operate the system manually I want to have to pump off so that it will not come on automatically.

Once I had the generator on I went into the house and turned on the kitchen facet. Then I went outside and turned on the pump breaker. Once the pump was going I knew tat all the cold water in the tank would eventually be drained. My plan was to take a shower with as warm water as I could get. I was amazed to discover that the water from this well will always be 72 degrees all year. I have placed my hands in the water as it comes right out of the ground and it is warm. The trick is to get the 80-gallon tank drained so that the warm water fills the water line into the house. This sounds complicated and I could not wait that long so I just took a cold shower.

So I am happy to say that the Lone worm Ranch is working. I have tested some of the basic facilities and they work. When there is full time electricity in a few weeks I will test running hot water, the stove, and the refrigerator. For now I am content to have a place to sleep, indoor toilet, and cold shower. I am keeping my food in a camping cooler. I will be checking email at WiFi hot spots in Austin, Bastrop, or Elgin.