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Safe water

We have been only partially successful at avoiding Emma’s cold. Eleanor has a mild congestion, and I have a sore throat. Nobody feels 100% but at least we are mostly functional. But because we are dragging ourselves along and the days are so short at this time of year, it seems almost impossible to get anything done before sunset.

This morning we meandered out of our campsite on the shore of the Colorado River in Needles, and puttered further along Rt 95 in the desert, eventually merging with I-10 south of Joshua Tree National Park. We had no fixed destination in mind. Along the way, we tried entering Joshua Tree from the south side, but the only campground in the park (Cottonwood, 4000 ft. elevation) was cold and windy and lonely. The ranger station was closed for staff training, there were no evening ranger programs within 30 miles, and I couldn’t blog or do any work up there since there was no cellular service. If we’d planned a couple of days in advance we might have stayed, but for an impulsive visit it didn’t make sense. We decided to skip Joshua Tree in favor of the warmer air down in the Palm Springs area.

I think the virus is affecting our decisions. With a rhinovirus in your system, you want warmth and comfort food. You want plenty of hot water and early bedtime. You want a movie or a book in bed. You don’t want to go rock-hopping at 4000 ft. in a cold breeze 40 miles from the nearest pharmacy. Our adventuresome instincts have been blunted by the influence of a microscopic nuisance.

However, this is an opportunity to talk about ways to avoid microscopic nuisances. (You’ll admire the smoothness of this segue in a moment.) Last week at REI I bought a Steripen, which is a little hand-held ultraviolet light that renders harmless all bugs that might be in your drinking water. You press a button, dip the light into the water, and in about 90 seconds it has scrambled the DNA of 99.999% of the viruses, bacteria, and protozoa in the water. Voila! Safe drinking water.

UV devices like this are commonly built in to household water treatment systems, but this portable version is ideal for an RV’er. It runs on 4 AA batteries and it weighs less than a pound. I bought it after a lot of research into ways to get safe water when traveling in Mexico. Filters can get out the “chunky” stuff like metals, chemicals, protozoa, and bacteria (down to about .9 microns), but they can miss some bacteria and all the viruses. (For example, hepatitis can be caused by contaminated water.)

So-called “purifiers” can knock out the viruses but they generally do that by introducing chemicals like iodine or chlorine. I like my water to contain only water. So I chose a two-step approach: fill the fresh water tank with well-filtered water, then treat it with the Steripen for drinking purposes.

We use the Camco CX90 ceramic in-line filter on   our fresh water hose whenever we fill the tank or are connecting to city water.   This ensures the water in our tank and fixtures is not contaminated by sediment, etc., and it also improves the taste.

The system works.   Las Vegas water tastes horrible, but with the CX90 and the charcoal filter built-in to our Moen kitchen faucet, it was passable.   I’m planning to use the Steripen when we go to Mexico next, and here in the USA it is also useful for those times when we are boondocking and need to make safe drinking water from the fresh water holding tank.

Tonight the blog comes to you from the parking lot at the Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella CA, right at the noisy intersection of I-10 and 86.   We’re here with eight other RVs, laying low until sunrise, when we can get back on the road down toward the Salton Sea.

One Response to “Safe water”

  1. Rita Says:

    There is a documentary on the Salton Sea which might be interesting. I am waiting on it to arrive from Netflix in forwarded mail.

    Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea (2004)

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