Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

Coastal California trip February 1, 2018

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Modifications,Stuff I carry — Sierrashadow @ 2:17 am
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Sometimes this mountain dweller just needs to hear the surf. So I did a midweek trip to Capitola and Monterey. The beginning was a bit rocky because I spent two full days in the Apple store in Los Gatos. My laptop crashed while loading the new operating system. They had to flatten the hard drive twice but finally got it up and running. I lost about a months worth of data but that is my fault for not backing up more faithfully. $100 bucks for a second external hard drive would have been wise.

Once the trip really started it was lovely. The weather was just perfect. Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz.

Just a random pull out on Highway one before Big Sur.

The most beautiful place on earth, Julia Pheiffer Burns State Park. Too bad the shadow falls on McVey falls.

FYI – I stressed about getting a site at Veteran’s Park, a little known first come first served campground in Monterey. Let’s just say mid week in January, not a problem. I pulled in at ten a.m. and secured my spot, but even at 7:00 p.m. there were plenty. Capitola is a State Park on the reservation system, but even they had no problem adding a night to my reservation when I asked.

And for the mod fans, I needed batteries in my little red lantern which is neither little nor light, taking 4 D batteries (which nothing else in the camper does). I grabbed this funky light a friend got me as a joke. It is no joke! This thing puts out some serious light. I remembered I had seen a two pack at Ross Dress for Less (yes, you read that right) recently so I went to the one in Capitola and found them there. $8.99 for two. They take 3 AAA batteries which I carry a good supply of for headlamps, etc.

They come with two magnets on the back and I carry some tiny, tiny very powerful magnets.

By sandwiching the magnets on the outside of the window flap and the light on the inside they are securely up there in the bed area for nighttime reading. If you add little sticky back Velcro hook down the middle and they can hang off the loop strip around the top of the camper, or use screws as designed to mount (not in my camper – I keep it as pristine as possible).

Hand in ambient light.

Hand with light held 12 inches away, in mouth. Shadow of camera on fingers.

Off

On

And they are small enough to tuck into stray corners for storage and travel. Unlike the lantern which never had a good “Home”. I stuck one of these right by the entrance door so that I can get light without stepping into the rig and doing the overhead lights. Works well when I need something out of the couch storage.

I do have overhead lighting in the ATC but my house battery had been abused before we got the solar installed and is not holding a full charge. If I run the heat too much, the fridge fails just before sunrise. So every bit of house battery I can conserve on these early winter nights helps.

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Portable shower contraption December 30, 2017

Filed under: curtains and steps,Hygiene — Sierrashadow @ 6:11 pm
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This isn’t specific to my Bobcat but Wander the West had a thread regarding showers, so I decided to record this for posterity. I have used the curtain system with the Bobcat to create an outdoor potty room at a music festival when I had company in the camper. I used carabiners and velcro to attach it to the roof latches of the Bobcat outside. But I can’t find pictures of that. Sorry. I rarely carry this as I find sponge baths to be sufficient in most cases. And as a side note, my goodness, have digital cameras improved in 15 years! Sorry these are blurry.

Many years ago, on a pop-up tent trailer forum there was a discussion of portable shower enclosures. So here is what I constructed at the time. It all fits in a box for travel purposes. They recommended a banjo fitting. No one around here knew what a banjo fitting was, but when I showed them the picture they kept saying the $24 “tank fitting” was the closest they could come. I bought it, and then later saw the faucet hole covers. At $2.49 they were very similar, but not quite as beefy. Since this isn’t a high pressure, permanent type of installation, I thought why not try? I drilled a small pilot hole, and then another bigger one, etc, until I had a decent sized hole for the water to drain through. One advantage is the shower hose fits directly on without adaptors. The tank fitting needed adaptors to get to a hose fitting, so I returned it. So the water that falls inside the Sterilite box can be drained through the faucet hole cover and a tube to the outside. (Tank fitting on left, faucet hole cover with hole drilled on right below)

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My next challenge was to hang a shower curtain without drilling into the ceiling. I played around with lots of different things, but here’s what I finally ended up with. I had 2 shock corded tent poles from a tent we no longer use (they are still undamaged, so can be put back if necessary). I built a frame of PVC larger than the bottom of the Sterilite box, with 12″ risers coming up from the corners (actually it’s a dog bed I made years ago, but…dual purpose, right?) Then I put 9 inches of doweling inside the risers to “raise” the tent poles to roof height. The seven segment tent poles go up three sections to the ceiling, bend 90 degrees, pass through 2 eyebolts on lid/curtain (one segment), bend 90 degrees down three segments back to the floor like a big inverted U shape. The lid of the Sterilite box has four holes drilled in the corners for the eye bolts. The shower curtain was gathered and sewn to a rectangular base of fabric about the size of the lid. From the inside of the lid put eye bolt, nut, washer, fabric (shower curtain right side out), plastic lid, washer, nut so that the practically smooth side (nut) is on the outside of the lid. Thread the tent poles through the eye bolts. When it is time to pack it up, flip the whole lid over so that everything fits in the box for travel. Another advantage, the whole thing can be moved outside to take advantage of the outdoor shower if we are in a secluded enough spot, although it is more wobbly if not wedged against the ceiling.

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We had onboard water so I used a water thief to create a shower device. My Bobcat doesn’t have water because I learned how much of a PITA it is to winterize!

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9.96    hand held massaging shower head with 60″ hose

7.53    diverter for instant on and off

?          3/4″ female to 1/2″ male hose fitting

4.95    water thief (I couldn’t figure out what size the sink threads were, and I had it.)

2.00    8 washers and nuts for eye bolts

2.00    4 eye bolts

8.99    shower curtain

8.99    shower curtain

4.94    58 Qt Sterilite box for shower pan and lid for curtain support

2.49    faucet hole cover (drilled out for drainage)

7.99    60″ white vinyl shower hose

?          2 aluminum shock corded tent poles (I already had)

?          various PVC pipes and connectors I already had for base frame

1.49    1/2″ dowel to raise the height inside the PVC risers

_____

61.33

 

Late October Arizona jaunt November 5, 2017

I  really wanted to get to the Grand Canyon after last years aborted attempt. This year my sister-in-law was available to go with me. She handled the confined quarters well, and was a great companion. There was a controlled burn nearby which allowed smoke to fill the canyon. It was better in the mornings, and progressively worse as the day went on. No camera can really do justice to the Grand Canyon, especially not just a cell phone, but I still wanted to record the visit. Nancy made fun of me because most people take pictures of their grandchildren, I take pictures of my truck and camper. But hey, I have fans to keep happy.

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Then we went to Monument Valley and stayed at Gouldings Campground. There aren’t a lot of other options, and with a novice camper along I wasn’t going to ruin it by suggesting boondock camping. The second picture shows my new entrance step, $19.99 at Ikea. I added sand tape to the steps so it isn’t slippery. It doesn’t stow as easily, but is so much steadier than the folding one I ran over. And even just an inch or two taller makes a huge difference in comfort getting in and out.

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I usually shrink the images a bit on this blog to make it easier to view on phones and tablets, but I just didn’t have the heart to shrink these (I had to after all, but left them as large as possible). It is such a awe inspiring landscape. Nothing prepared me for it.

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The loop road is open to high clearance vehicles, but pretty rough. My Tacoma and Bobcat handled it well, but we were rockin’ and rollin’ in places (well, I guess not really rollin’ – that would be tragic)

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Then we headed for Canyon de Chelly. I don’t know exactly where this lunch stop overlook was, but I had been looking for a place to pull over for lunch for quite a while and there was nothing but sagebrush and no pull outs at all. Came around a corner and found a wide spot with this as the view. Amazing.

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I have been to Canyon de Chelly before, but it is still impressive. The cottonwood trees were flaming yellow.

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Next stop was Petrified Forest. More badlands with awesome color variations. IMG_7401IMG_7403IMG_7404

And the last stop was Meteor Crater. I haven’t been there for 30 years. The crater is the same, but my have the visitor services changed. A nice museum and buildings, with a hefty entrance fee to boot ($16 per). But I really wanted Nancy to see it. IMG_7408

I hadn’t really researched camping options in Flagstaff. The KOA was even full. They recommended Greer’s just up the street, but they wanted $33 with no external services (no bathroom at all). So we decided to get a motel instead. The snarky employee at Greer’s said we wouldn’t find anything because even the rents in town were $2,000 a month. We had passed the Hotel Aspen Inn and Suites and I had noticed it looked nice. So when it came up on my Kayak search as $37.50 a night we shot on over there. With taxes it ended up being $10 more than the camping, but for that price we got 2 queen beds, 2 hot showers, TV, Wi-Fi, heat, and 2 breakfasts. And the employees were gentle and kind. It got down to 27 degrees that night, so I am glad we did it.

 

Fall color 2017 October 7, 2017

I had a midweek reservation in Yosemite for an art journaling class. It was just a few days after a good sized chunk of El Capitan came down. The pictures don’t begin to describe the size of the chunk that came down. Much of the rock pulverized on impact. There was still lots on the trees, and as I drove by a good gust of wind stirred up a cloud. I didn’t get the camera out in time for that, but pulled over to walk around. I spoke with some climbers who had been on the face when it came down. They said they couldn’t see it (around the corner so to speak) but felt the rock shiver and heard the impact. People had run their fingers though the dust on the fence posts.

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Bridal Veil Falls almost had more water than Yosemite Falls itself. But I think it is a distance/perspective thing.

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During the art class, we saw a small yearling bear on the grass right outside. He climbed up into an apple tree and gorged himself. It was interesting to see people’s reactions, from complete terror to idiotically approaching trying to get a picture.

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There was a controlled burn up in Little Yosemite Valley that gave Half Dome a halo effect when I passed Olmstead Point headed to 395.

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I had a nice lunch stop at the Wildlife viewing-picnic area at the top of Tioga Pass. I love framing the shot through the doorway to record my lunch stops. IMG_7183

Then over the pass for the aspen color. I went up Virginia Lakes Rd. but the higher I got the more blown out it was. The best color was right at highway level.

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Up 108, past the Mountain Warfare Training Center, the aspens on the hillsides were beautiful. It is a terrible picture, but I watched this guy landing. I had to slow down because he was kicking up the dust. I think it is called an Osprey Tilt Rotor Transport. Very cool, hovering like a helicopter, but an airplane.

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So for the modification fans, I have installed many D rings throughout the camper. I utilized existing screws where possible. Then attached shoe strings as tie off points.

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I needed to dry my towel after a shower and realized that it was much darker than the Bali Scarf I used to put up and since I carry it anyway is a better curtain for the back door. Bali scarf will stay home from now on. It is attached to the aluminum with binder clips. Note where I store the lifting device in the handle of the refrigerator. I mangled out the rivets ATC installed and use it carefully for lifting and lowering. But taking it off opens up the space for sleeping. I banged myself on it far too many times. Which leads me to another thing I discovered this week. I needed more light for reading in bed  (wanting to minimize the battery usage), so I hung a lantern using an S clip in the hole created by removing the lifter bar. Cool.

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I also have this little guy on velcro, but he doesn’t put out quite enough light for serious, early evening, wintertime travel.

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The Sterilite bins I bought are working out well. The lids only go on for transit, but they do contain a large amount of clutter, higher than the top of the couch alone. One for food and one for, well, clutter. In this picture you can also see how the command hook for the curtain popped off and I just tied it up using one of the D rings nearby. It works fine and is securely attached. The little red ice chest functions as my step stool into bed, and stores mittens, booties and a sleeping hat.

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My husband joined me for the first part of the trip. I made him take the extra pads back home with him so I would have the extra room. But I was glad to see he was willing to travel in the Cabin on Wheels (COW) again.

And bad news. I was careless and backed up into my stepstool like an idiot. I mangled it just enough that I don’t feel safe using it. Fortunately I had my trusty but tiny hitch step and a little white turtle step along, so it wasn’t a complete catastrophe. But I am researching and in the market for a new step stool, hopefully a little higher than the one I had. But not much is on the market that I think will work. One of the guys I met at Millpond last month had an awesome one, but I didn’t get the name of it and can’t find it online. It was grey plastic 2 step and folded like the turtle stool, but was much sturdier. So if the retired firefighter from Kernville is reading, please help me.

 

 

 

Millpond 2017 September 19, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Festival camping — Sierrashadow @ 3:08 am
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I got almost the same spot as last year, but the view out the door wasn’t quite as spectacular, not that I spent much time looking out.

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I pulled in behind these two FWC’s and asked if they minded the competition’s product joining them. Actually, they were great guys who were on their second FWC each and quite proud of their rigs. We exchanged rig tours and compared the differences. I don’t think any of us were convinced that we were in anyway lacking. It is nice to have options. They commented that they were surprised I could unlatch from the ground (I’m only 5’4″). It made me reconsider the value of having a smaller truck, even if it is a bit wimpy. I counted at least 12 Pop-up campers at the festival.

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I put up my EZUP to mark my spot in case I needed to run to town, but left it low all weekend, I didn’t need to hang out there when there is such good music in the main meadow and workshop tents. My favorites this year were The Revelers (Zydeco) and David Grier (amazing guitar player). The Revelers were promoting their black pot festival in Lafayette in late October. Maybe next year.

Then I snagged a site in Tuolumne Meadows for Sunday night. It was cold at 9,000 feet. Very glad to have my heater.

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Nothing momentous, but still a great getaway in the Cabin on Wheels (COW).

 

Northern Tahoe Quickie August 28, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels — Sierrashadow @ 4:11 am

I had a few extra days and got online to get last minute reservations, since it would be Friday and Saturday night in August. I got one night at Boca Reservior and one at Granite Flat fight off 89 near Truckee. Boca was a nice campground, but they neglected to tell me that the road was closed over the dam. So I had to make a big loop, plus about 6 miles down a well graded gravel road to get there. Saturday morning I went to Lake Tahoe between 267 and 89. I went to Robert Pomin Park and enjoyed the beach to myself on a Saturday morning! Of course, like many lake beaches, there was no sand. I also found Lake Forest Campground, owned and operated by Tahoe City PUD. It was pretty seedy, a bit waterlogged from the wet winter, but a first come first served with available sites Saturday at noon in August is nice to find out about.

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Granite Flat is sandwiched between the highway and the river. Unfortunately, the highway noise overpowers the river. But it was fun to hear rafters laughing as they went by.

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But the highlight of my trip was seeing another ATC. This one had Truckee trails stickers on it so I am pretty sure it’s a local. The bike rack was deployed so I bet he was out enjoying the trails. I left my ATC business card with a note on his windshield.

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I headed up 89 towards Quincy and fully intended to camp another night, but as I headed down the Feather River canyon on Highway 70 I realized I was going to hit flat land by 2:00, so I just decided to head on home. Plus I really wanted a shower. But it felt good to get out again. All this home selling stuff is stressful, and this was the perfect antidote.

 

Not ATC but New Mexico! August 1, 2017

Filed under: Non ATC Bobcat travels — Sierrashadow @ 8:29 pm

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This isn’t about my ATC Bobcat camper, but I have been traveling with a college roommate for almost 40 years. This year we decided to connect with a third roommate we haven’t seen for a few years. So New Mexico was our destination. We managed to cover quite a bit of area, and kept to the higher elevations for the coolness. Unfortunately, it was monsoon season, so we had daily thunder storms, but after a full month of over 100 at home, it was delightful and brisk at 85 degrees.

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We went to Tijeras ruins from the Pueblo period. Since they covered them up after excavation, there wasn’t much to see. But the museum was having a pottery making day and it was fun to see several ladies having a great time learning a new skill. Then we went on to Quarai ruins, which has a Franciscan church ruin that reminded me of the cathedrals in Scotland. The colors were fabulous. I love those puffy clouds.

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Someone was very talented and creative in Mountain Air. Shaffer Hotel has been closed for years, but it is still worth a look.

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The next day we went to the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. I wasn’t expecting it to be so fascinating, but I throughly enjoyed it.

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Then we headed up the back side of the Sandia Mountains. Tinkertown was a hoot. They don’t make tourist traps like this anymore. Some old geezer spent a lot of time whittling and collecting. It is an amazing collection.

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I got a kick out of this one after 35 years in the profession.

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This sign has much to recommend.

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Then we went up to Santa Fe where I remembered being impressed with this staircase 30 years ago at the Loretto Chapel. I wish I had a clearer picture of it, but it was pretty dark and crowded in there. The nuns prayed for help when they were told it would have to be a ladder. After nine days of praying a carpenter arrived looking for work with just a donkey and a toolbox. A few months later he disappeared without pay. They couldn’t find him to thank him even though they tried everything. It is beautiful construction, I can see why people consider it miraculous.

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Three of the four “Wild Women of the Fifth Floor” UCSB 1978-1979.

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Just to the south of Taos, but can’t remember the name of the church.

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The enchanted Circle driving route. Gorgeous!

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My only nod to my camper. “grin”

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Pronghorn right by the side of the road.

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Leaving Taos for Chama, looks very flat and boring. Then this gorge opens out of no where for the Rio Grande to pass. Heights give me the willies, but I got out there anyway.

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Earthship.org was interesting but they wanted a fee to enter. Wasn’t that interesting! Definitely for the nonconformist personalities.

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The Cumbres and Toltec narrow gauge scenic railroad was a blast from the past. 6 hours chugging along, crossing the border between New Mexico and Colorado 11 times, eating a fabulous lunch miles from the nearest road, ending up covered in soot and ashes and loving every minute of it.

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Heading south past Ghost Ranch of Georgia O’Keefe fame (saw it last time, don’t need to do it again) are some beautiful cliffs and Echo Amphitheater.

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The Jemez Springs area is beautiful. The Walatowa visitor’s center moved me emotionally. The level of respect for education and educators was gratifying. They put value on children as the next generation and the future of their entire civilization. We could learn a lot from them. I tried to tell the poor clerk there how much I appreciated it, but ended up a blubbering mass. I hope she realized I was ok! And the taco across the street was amazing! Couldn’t ask for better surroundings.

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On up the road is “Soda Dam”. My friend had some hazy memory from 30 years ago and finally pinned down where it was. So I knew from the moment she saw it in the guidebook, we were headed there. But I was glad because I don’t remember doing the road along the Valles Caldera, and it was beautiful!

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We had a daily deluge all but the train day. But New Mexico does them up right. They were short in duration but powerful in execution. Very refreshing.

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So it was a great trip. The rental car performed well. We brought the tents and sleeping bags, but never broke them out because of the rain. So the trip ended up being more expensive than anticipated, but worth every penny. I love traveling with my buddy. And now need to find a time to take out the Bobcat again.

In two weeks I take the Bobcat to Yosemite for a family trip spread across three sites. Will have my husband in the rig for the first time ever. Will toss the tent in just in case it doesn’t really fit two people. Looking forward to it.