09: The Great White Buffalo
Road Test

Road Test

Free Range taught us pretty quickly that sailing is really just fixing your boat in exotic locations. On our second day of camping, The Great White Buffalo decided it was important that we understand that that particular concept applies on land too.

As we crouch under The GWB’s forward frame, wading through wiring and screws to get to a fuel pump, it is quite clear that RV-ing (is that what they call it even?) is merely fixing your rig in different (hopefully exotic) locations.


If you’re going to have to work on your RV, you might as well have a beautiful backdrop. Mount Wilson in all her glory back there – she’s the one on the Coors can.


So, just like on Free Range, GWB has two kinds of power – AC and DC. AC (alternating current) is 110 / 120 volts: anything you plug into the wall at home, like your lamps, your toasters, your blenders – you use AC power. DC (direct current) is 12 volts and its power comes from the batteries. When The GWB (or Free Range) is plugged into Shore Power (think big, hulking extension cord running from RV to a power source on land), then you have AC power and can then charge laptops, cell phones, iPads, etc. When NOT plugged into Shore Power, you cannot use AC power. That is, unless you have a GENERATOR.

And guess what came with The Great White Buffalo?

That would be one Onan 4000 gasoline-powered generator. Complete with red-neck bullet stickers.

The genny. She’s been shot at a few times but she still runs like a champ (most of the time, that is).
Super thick, 50-amp extension cord. That’s for Shore Power OR when you’re running the generator. Either way, it gets AC power to GWB.


In addition to AC and DC, we also have propane – this runs our refrigerator and stove (again, just like on Free Range).


So, to back things up a bit…

We decide it’s time to take The Great White Buffalo out for a road test – get her out of Montrose, find some pretty places to camp, and see how well this whole experiment is going to work. All we know is that National Forests allow boondocking (this is what RV-ers call “camping off the grid”) so we drive to one. One thing we realized quite quickly is that with a big rig such as this, you need to make sure if you’re going down some random, unknown dirt road that you will have space, at some point, to turn around. Otherwise, you’re kind of screwed. We took a chance and were able to flip GWB around…phew.

Voila! Camp spot #1 – Fall Creek, just west of Telluride.

We find a spot that is, literally, just off the road. But its a quiet road and there’s a creek right across the way, and access to trails. And we’ve got cell service (which means we have internet and I can work).

Checking out the area, strolling down the road. Lots of whistle pigs.
Myra LOVES the creek.
Grill up some meats for dinner + veggies out of a can (we thought we were done with cans when we left Free Range in Antigua but we’ve realized how cheap and convenient they are so…)
View from the Wilson Mesa trail. I think that’s Lone Cone…
Checking out the view from the trail.

Next spot is a thousand times more scenic than the first – we drive up Last Dollar Road and are rewarded with THIS view…


The Great White Buffalo roaming free in the mountains.


We set up GWB in her new place, and I need to check email and do some work but…the laptop’s running low on power. It needs some AC and fast. We start the generator (remember, it gives us AC power!) except…it doesn’t start. Crap.

With the last remaining battery juice, we pull up YouTube and watch some videos that help us determine that our issue with the generator is most likely the fuel pump.


We fumble around with screws, wires and clamps in order to take out the fuel pump. We mess with it, put it back in and still, no go. So we order a fuel pump but that doesn’t help us out in the short term. So, Stéphane does what he always does – think outside the box, of course. He decides that HE’LL be the fuel pump and bypass our broken one. Sucking on the fuel line, he siphons the fuel and gets the genny running.



That loud, beautiful noise means amps of precious AC power.

AC + mountain views = Happy Campers!

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