Monthly Archives: August 2014

I use table salt to make water safe to drink

The options for water purification can be overwhelming.  On the camper we have a particulate filter, followed by a charcoal filter, and finally a UV light.  This works great if you have the space, weight, and power to make it happen – but what about when you are packing everything on your back?

15794[1]There are lots of great evaluations of the different systems (pumps, pens, filters, tablets, drops, etc) that I won’t attempt to reproduce – google is your friend and mine.  I’m just going to jump right in on what we are using.  The H2gO Purifier, which is a miniaturized version of the large scale MIOX technology that big companies (Coca-Cola, Pepsi, et al) along with municipalities, the US Military, aid organizations, etc use to clean water.

The H2gO uses electricity to convert brine (salty water) into chlorine and hydrogen peroxide, which you then use to dose your water.  (There was a predecessor product a number of years ago – the MSR MIOX, that you could consider this a much improved reboot of).  It won Gear Junkie’s Best in Show at the January Outdoor Retailer Trade Show

Here’s what I have – I’m using a pre-production version, the final version will have a colored case and, I think, different graphics.  I backed this as an indiegogo project 16 months ago, and (like most kickstarter/indiegogo projects) their delivery plans were aggressive – but the good news is that they are getting very close to shipping and the production versions are going to be sold domestically in places like REI and the other big outdoor retailers under the Portable Aqua brand as the Portable Aqua PURE.

H2gO Purifier contents


Thanks to the clear plastics you can see the two salt reservoirs (top right and bottom right)

H2gO Purifier front


The device can be charged via USB, or via the built in solar cell on the back.


H2gO Purifier back

So far I’ve only used it to purify a water bottle’s worth of tap water in my kitchen – stay tuned for how the H2gO works for us during our September trip to Guatemala!

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Prep for Guatemala – September 2014

After having a great time at Overland Expo West this year, Emily and I came home excited about doing some travel outside of the US.  We want to do the long drive at some point in the future, but the timing isn’t right for us to take the 18 months away right now.

We’ve never been to Guatemala before, but numerous folks at Expo recommended Guatemala for Spanish language schools.  So we thought “why not?” and booked plane tickets to spend September in Guatemala.  Now all we had to do was figure out where we were going to stay, what school, etc.

There are a huge number of options – we don’t like big cities and prefer mountains to beaches, so after a lot of research we narrowed the search for schools down to San Pedro la laguna, a Guatemalan town on the southwest shore of Lake Atitlán.

Lago_Atitlàn[1]It’s a small town of 13,000 people and popular with backpackers for the language schools and restaurant/bar scene.  Apparently the downtown “gringolandia” has a pretty active nightlife.

So while it will be nice to have some places to go – we don’t want to stay in gringolandia.  Searching the schools I found Corazon Maya Spanish Language School which is just outside of the town area on the lake and will (hopefully) give us the peaceful place to stay that we are looking for.


Travel to Central America is a little different than domestic travel.  We already have passports, etc. but it had been quite a few years since we had our vaccinations updated.  In addition to the normal stuff (MMR, flu, TDAP, polio) CDC recommends Hepatitis A, B, and typhoid vaccinations along with malaria prophylaxis when traveling to Guatemala.  We take Cipro and epipens with us to use as needed.  Neither of us has ever had a dangerous reaction to a sting or bite, but that’s no guarantee that you won’t the next time – epipens are cheap insurance against your throat closing up on you because you got stung on your tongue, etc! (That actually happened to my Grandmother once).

For staying in touch while we are gone, we expect to have decent wifi available in San Pedro, and I have a DeLorme inReach Explorer with paid up global SAR/MEDIVAC insurance.  MEDIVAC is a good thing to have – for about $220/year you get guaranteed medical evacuation / repatriation to a hospital of your choice.  If something bad happens to me and I need medical care in the US, this makes that happen.



Tripadvisor Forum

Lake Atitlan Travel Guide



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Well, I broke it – frame replacement


If you’ve been following my posts on facebook or expedition portal, you know that we are replacing the rear section of the frame on Robinson.

tl;dr – our truck is too heavy and the load is improperly presented to the frame.  We’re fixing this by replacing the rear frame section with a stronger one, and changing the way the sub-frame presents the payload to the vehicle.

Here’s the frame removal activity.  This was done at British 4×4 in Durham, NC.  There’s a chain hoist, which made lifting the rear subframe off of the frame an easy task

Lifting the subframe


Frame section removed – we just rolled it out.


Both frame rails broken

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 Some of the design drawings for the new frame section.


And some images of the new frame pieces coming together at the fabricator…

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