We awoke early after our second night at Brown County State Park's Horseman's camp partly so we could pack up and get out without being seen, but also so we could make it to Nashville for lunch with Jenny's stepfather John. The morning was largely uneventful, we stopped off at a gas station on the way to Nashville to refill our water bottles, picked up a few provisions at a local IGA grocery store and headed on to Nashville.
Nashville, IN is a small town built at the foot of some rather large hills. Our plan was to meet John somewhere, unload the equipment from our bikes into John's car for safekeeping then lock up the bikes and have lunch. Our arrival into Nashville was a little unnerving, it was Saturday so the whole town was out and we rode through the main market area where it seemed as though everyone was watching us ride by. Apparently two cyclists loaded with 90lbs of gear isn't a common sight in this small town.
The first time someone was bold enough to ask us how we "go" was in Homer, IL. We were camping in Sharon's back yard, and it was Crystal, her neighbor, who had asked. The reply was, "Well, if it's alright with you guys, we're used to digging our own holes. We thought we'd just go back here up against the corn." Sharon & Crystal's properties bordered a large corn field. They were just curious, and it was a natural curiosity, and I think ultimately, they wanted to make sure we had a "going" situation we were comfortable with.
For the most part we maintain our water supply by filling up from tap water available at gas stations, grocery stores and, if need be, asking home owners, but when the availability of tap water becomes more sparse we have a two stage water filtration system that can be used to filter water from creeks, rivers or ponds.
The first stage in our filtration system is the LifeStraw Family 1.0 water filter. This filter boasts a 0.02 micron filter allowing it to filter out over 99% of bacteria, protozoa and viruses. The manufacturer claims this filter will last for 18,000 liters of water giving it a very low costs per liter and, particularly for just the two of us, a long lifespan.
My primary computing device is an old MicroCenter WinBook TW800 tablet. Paired with the tablet we have a four port USB hub, a wireless keyboard and mouse paired with the same Logitech unifying receiver and two USB flash drives one of which has Ubuntu installed which is my primary operating system.
This tablet doesn't require a whole lot of juice when compared to a laptop and it's charged through USB which makes it a good fit with our portable solar chargers and battery packs. Usually I'll power the tablet with a 20,000mAh power bank then charge the power bank from one of our solar chargers as needed and available. If conditions provide I'll charge the tablet from the power bank and the power bank from the solar charger while using the tablet. In good sunlight the solar charger should provide more power to the power bank than the power bank is providing to the tablet.
We acquired two 20 watt portable solar panels, both being the Anker PowerPort Solar. We use these in conjunction with two 20,000mAh power banks, each being the EasyAcc Monster 20000. The EasyAcc battery packs have dual ten watt USB inputs allowing them to charge at up to 20 watts which means in full sun light the solar units will charge each battery pack at wall outlet speeds. When in good sun light and the opportunity arises I whip out one or both solar chargers and store some rays in the battery packs or, sometimes, charge a phone or two directly.
The solar units are small, light weight yet sturdy. The only issue I've encountered is overheating charging devices. The solar chargers have a small pocket for storing devices while being charged, but in the sun this pocket heats up real quick. I recommend propping up the solar panels and placing charging devices in the shadow of the panels. I have a folding laptop desk that I often use as a stand for the solar unit which allows me to better angle the panels to get the best out of the panels.
Our first few days out were quite a ride and presented a number of challenges that certainly tested our patience at times, but ultimately we learned quite a bit and, while I believe there's still quite a bit left to learn, we've really gotten the hang of life on the outside.
We left Indianapolis somewhere around 2am and traveled roughly seventy miles before making camp at about 9pm. That evening, we encountered our first large hill which, after having been on the bikes for a good sixty miles, we decided to ascend on foot. Upon reaching the top we found a short path leading to a small clearing and a picnic table within a forested area. This was, of course, a sight for sore eyes as they say so we decided to pitch our tent and get started on some dinner. The elation was, however, short lived.