Organ Mountains NM / pizza experiment

I got my immediate business done in ELP and withdrew to the Organ Mountains national monument north of Las Cruces, NM. They’ve made some changes since I was last here, putting up a barrier on the north side of this trail. Land recovery, one supposes:

This cuts the available spots in half (south of two-track remains open) but it was midweek so there wasn’t much problem finding a spot. I assume the 3/4 day Easter weekend will cause mass chaos starting Friday. Holiday campers are even more poorly-behaved than weekenders.

unloaded the panels

I unloaded the panels, freeing up a ton of room in the van and decreasing my overall annoyance irritation.

As I took each one out I covered it then hooked up to the much-abused 10A mppt. I was a little nervous about this; would I find a bad panel? It took a minute for the controller to realize the ~36Vmp string was gone and a ~30Vmp panel was in its place. After that it was off to the races and controller ran all three up to 146w (10A @ 14.6v) as I swapped them in. I ran the crockpot (see below), electric blanket, etc, to make sure I had enough load to make it run both sets of panels.

After that trial run I stacked the new panels off to the side and plugged in the 2x100w again. I wouldn’t really need them but since I lost that 3rd 190w I might as well set them out.

Looks like the wind will be crazy again tomorrow but calmer by Friday. I look forward to getting the new panels up.

evaporative cooler

I’ve used and appreciated swamp coolers in the past, but I ditched (gave away? can’t remember) mine when I went snowbirding in Dec 2019. Two factors led me to picking up another evap:

  1. normally I follow mild weather but I’ll be pinned to this area a while awaiting my 2nd covid shot.
  2. temps can spike, as when the friend and I encountered mid-80s at Fortuna Pond BLM east of Yuma. It was unpleasant: heat, bugs, and increased humidity because of the nearby water.

Evap wouldn’t have helped much with #2, but the Honeywell unit I’ve had good luck with has a pretty strong 3spd fan, which would have been nice. Amazon Warehouse had a “used” (damaged exterior box) for $50-something. I recall it being ~$80 a couple years ago and right now the cheapest one I see is a crazy $199 (!!). Definitely worth $80, but $199 seems like an outlier. I notice this one has a bottom drain plug which was sorely missed on the original.

pizza experiment

Since I had to load the system anyhow I decided to try out a pizza idea I’ve been incubating. I knew Kaylee had done pizza experiments but I did this without referring to them.

The plan:

  • 7” pizza crusts (Mama Mary’s brand) from the store. Had to trim to 6” to fit the bottom of the crockpot
  • a dollop of tomato sauce spread evenly
  • as much mozzarella as I could sanely shovel in
  • some uncured sopressata cut as thin as I could do it.

Since I was working from premade crusts I decided 1hr on HI (150w) would be a good first whack. I propped the lid open a crack with a bit of folded paper towel. I wanted the moisture from the sauce to evaporate.

I stopped at the 1hr mark as planned It turned out surprisingly pizza-like:

The cheese was fully melted and browned on the edges. The meat was nicely browned and the fat melted. The toppings get a solid B+, maybe an A-. The crust was cooked but wasn’t thin-crust crispy the way I like it. Crust gets a C. I think next time I will precook the crust on low for an hour, vented, before adding the toppings and cooking. Overall, B- but “you have so much potential, Pizza!”