Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

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.

 

Couch modification May 6, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 5:33 am
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I have not liked the legs ATC put on my couch back to create the lower sleeping platform since day one. It didn’t feel secure and the brackets were cutting into the carpet they installed. True it was hidden by said couch back, but it still bugged me. It also didn’t allow the couch back to lean back into a comfortable recline angle. It was too vertical. So I pondered, and came up with a possible solution for me at least. I have a Sterlite box with latches that was the exact right height, if I bought two or three more, they might support the overhang. So off to Wal-Mart.

These boxes also ride well on the windowsill lip behind the couch. I placed a little sticky backed Velcro on the bottom of the boxes to keep them from sliding around up there. The plan is to travel with them up there, but if I want the bed with the top latched down (stealth mode), I can flip the boxes over and place them in the aisle. The same Velcro should help the couch back stick to the boxes and not slide around. It still leaves a little bit of an aisle, and widens the cramped feeling on the bed because things are no longer riding on that windowsill.

I only bought two so far and put food in one and some assorted clutter in the other. Then there is a third one that I currently use as my portapottie which is strapped into the aisle at the front. I don’t think I will be able to use it for that purpose because the aisle is so cramped, but it will help support the extended bed.

I took the folding legs off but will keep them and the screws handy in case this doesn’t work. Stealth mode isn’t actually something I plan to do often, but it is nice to have options.
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I also got a picture of my writing desk. I use the folding table with the ice chest on top. It puts it at the right level for writing, painting or drawing. It fits in the aisle.

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I just got back from a quick trip down the coast. Sunset at Morro Bay was beautiful.

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At Carpenteria State Beach I spent a half an hour watching a Great Blue Heron in the campground catching gophers. He was quite good at it. It took only three flicks to get the prey lined up correctly to slide down the gullet. heron hunting

I enjoyed lunch in Ojai at a park all to myself. It always amazes me how people congregate in certain areas and are nowhere to be found in others.

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I needed the get away to prepare for our upcoming move. We didn’t get the house I hinted about a few months ago, but got one that is better! The garage is also high enough for the camper/Tacoma combo, but it will be several months before it is clean and organized enough for one car much less two. So at the end of the month things will be pretty hectic.

I also enjoyed the roof mounted solar. When I was at ATC recently, I asked them to mount the panel on the roof. It is wonderful not to have to schlep it around, lock it up, worry about tearing the upholstery when sliding it in and out of the back seat, scratching it somehow. I loved the portable solar but the permanently mounted is ten times better. If I stop at an attraction for a few hours it continues to charge, so even if I didn’t drive around all day, I am good to go for the evening. It did make lifting the lid a bit heavier, even with the external shocks. Remember, I am a wimpy 60 year old woman. If I can do it anyone can.

 

Major modification March 5, 2017

Filed under: Destinations,Modifications — Sierrashadow @ 3:56 pm

We have been looking for a new house. The snow storm in January where my husband had to snowthrow three times in two days did him in. He said he got older in the five years of drought. Fortunately we live where just five miles makes a huge difference on the western slope of the Sierra. I had been looking in Sonora and the pickings were mighty slim. So I figured when the market started in the spring things might open up. I walked in from an errand and my husband said, “I think I found us a house.”  He did! It is perfect in so many ways. But it is in Jamestown, not Sonora. I didn’t think he would be willing to go that far down the hill. So in less than a week, we made an offer and are waiting to see if we get it or not. For anyone who knows my husband they would be shocked. He over thinks everything, and second guesses too much.  Among the many things that made me want the house was the garage. 


I sent him an email with just those two pictures and said, “Buy me the house!” The things I will do for my Bobcat. 

I had a trip planned to Capitola this week, but the state of California closed New Brighton Beach. I went to Anthony Chabot in the foothills of Oakland for three nights. But Warren called the first night to tell me he had made an offer. I guess the realtor called and said there were two offers so he had to jump on it. We went in full price, no contingencies so hopefully it will be the best offer. So even though the excitement was over and it was just waiting, I decided I would rather be at home.  


It was a really nice place. The city lights were pretty twinkling in the distance. But I could hear train whistles all night.

And I wrote this post from a hotel room in Jamestown because they are expecting a low snow again. Timing is everything.  It will be nice to put that chapter of our lives behind us. We loved living in the pines, but Bark beetle killed that dream. Our neighborhood has been a war zone of tree felling and chipping lately. 

 

Kitchen cabinet January 16, 2017

Filed under: Stuff I carry — Sierrashadow @ 8:46 pm
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I recently used my camper as a cheap motel for an early flight out of Sacramento to Atlanta. I stayed at Rancho Seco, a SMUD (utility company) recreation area. $20 a night is much cheaper than a motel room for sure. But it was raining cats and dogs, serious deluge. So I used my time to inventory and document.

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My couch functions as my kitchen storage. The end closest to the door contains these things: 3 dish tubs, one for storing a variety of utensils and lids, the other two for washing dishes. Lift the tubs out and you get

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2 cast iron skillets, stainless steel coffee pot with a Stanley mug/pot inside, a SS thermos for cooking oatmeal, etc. overnight, a small 2 pot set from Wal-mart, an ove-glove to lift hot cookware, a waterbottle with a Simple shower head attached to minimize water use while bathing or dishwashing, a turkey baster (new, not sure it will stay in, but something I cooked recently would have been easier if I had one, so…), the floral at the edge is a stainless steel BBQ grate, and the paper wrapped thing is that ax tool I bought at an  antique store. Need to wrap it because it is sharp.

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I have 2 loaf pans and binder clips to create an oven like contraption on the stove. A juice jug for making orange juice from a can, two extra turnbuckles because you never know, a baggie of zip ties, a hank of rope, and the purple thing turns my Thermarest “headboard” into a chair. I have started leaving my chair at home sometimes since I so rarely break it out, but I want to have a back up in case. Under that is a cheap grill thing where you sandwich something in between the two wings and cook it over a fire. Haven’t used it yet, but you never know.

So standing on the ground, I can lean in and reach all this. The refrigerator is on the opposite side. I usually have to step up on the hitch step to reach inside, but don’t have to get all the way in.

I try to organize what I am going to need before I get out. The stove is mounted all the way on the front wall, so I have to get it out first. Then put the back couch cushion on top of the front one, so I can access the “kitchen”. Anything needed from the red ice chest staples pantry (critter proof) comes out, and if no picnic table the ironing board.

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The other half of the couch is mostly battery. The Omaha steak box protects the connections to the solar charger and 12V outlet from shifting contents. 2 gallons of water, a syphon hose, a water bottle with a stainless steel cup on the bottom, my rain poncho, a small shovel for waste burial if boon docking, white face cloths for sanitation if no shower available. The blue pole is for sleeping on the floor with the couch seat cushions to level them since they have a wooden chunk permanently attached on the back. The couch as designed by ATC feels a little wobbly, so I would sleep on the floor if I couldn’t pop up for some reason (stealth). I may just pull the folding legs off the vertical couch pads since they keep the couch back from tilting back at a comfortable angle. I need to look at how they are attached.

No picture of the middle of the couch, but it has a bag with my snow chains (may move them to a turnbuckle area since they can get wet, but haven’t yet), a tarp and 4 tarp poles from an old “dining canopy” to create an awning if I stay in one place long enough to need one, and a bag of towels and emergency supplemental clothing.

So you can fit an awful lot in those couches. I did notice when I was pulling things out and inventorying that some of the screws holding the couch together at the floor level have pulled out. I guess it isn’t designed to withstand cargo shifting. The support in the center where the two couch cushions meet has also lost some screws and stability. Will need to reinforce that before I fall in.

 

Grand Canyon Attempt – Failure December 3, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,curtains and steps,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 1:51 am
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Since I was down in Long Beach for family Thanksgiving, I took that opportunity to head for Arizona. My goal was the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, but I guess the last week of November was too optimistic. Things were great until Needles, but then the storm clouds started brewing. By Kingman, I tried to go to the BLM camp I found, but went six miles up the road until it turned to a dirt road. I knew I had at least another mile left, and didn’t want to get stuck in the possible snow and clay slick. So I chickened out and got a motel room. It was 28 degrees at 4:00 p.m. and only going to get lower.

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In the morning, the hills around were dusted with snow, so I felt like I made a wise choice. When I got to Williams, the road to Grand Canyon was closed. So I drove to Flagstaff in the snow. It was dry blowing snow that wasn’t really sticking to the roads, but people were driving full speed (70 mph!) down the highway! I decided to turn right towards Phoenix hoping the road dropped down quickly. I drove an hour in the snow, at one point low visibility, too. I tucked in behind a slower car with flashers on, and went a reasonable speed. I was so glad to see the big advisory signs for trucks warning them of a 20 mile long 6 percent downgrade. Sure enough, shortly I was out of the white stuff. I decided to stop at Montezuma’s Castle, the first cliff dwelling I ever saw 40 years ago. There used to be a campground there, but not any more. The ranger directed me to a State Park, Dead Horse, about 30 minutes away in Cottonwood, Az. I got there at dusk and holed up while it continued to rain. Good thing I was holding on to the handle when I stepped out in the morning. My step stool had a thick layer of ice on it.

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I did some shopping in Phoenix and Sun City. Realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore when I saw the parking dedicated to golf carts! The people were bundled up in ski jackets when it was 60 degrees out! Warm enough for me to indulge in a little frozen custard.

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I bought a little Christmas cheer for my camper. And just for the sake of documenting, I have a picture of the little ice chest I use as a step to get in and out of bed.

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The next two nights I ended up in an RV park. I had to warn both places I was a cabover camper, not an RV, but they were fine with it. One was just outside of Yuma and the other was El Cajon.

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Next morning I went to San Diego Old Town. All decorated for Christmas, and before things opened. My idea of fun, no crowds.

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Then I headed up PCH looking for a beach site for the night. San Elijo was full but she told me Carlsbad would have some for sure since they had 70 sites free last night. I got a nice one, but all the cliff side ones were reserved. I just moved my chair over to the empty site and chilled for a while until the occupants arrived. Two big RV’s that totally blocked my view, glad I enjoyed it earlier.

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Fitting to end with a Sunset. I felt like the whole trip was a search for the sun. Finally found some, but three hours after this clear sky shot, it started raining lightly. And then perfectly clear in the morning. Reminded me why I like my ATC, weather tight comfort. The Santa Ana winds were whipping through the Orange County-Los Angeles County area. I had to pull over to the slow lane to keep from being blown around. But arrived back in Long Beach to see the other half of the family who had the audacity to go on a cruise for Thanksgiving when their only daughter was coming their way (just kidding mom).

 

Late October Jaunt November 5, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 8:02 pm
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It was a rainy beginning, but this was the timeframe I had allotted to go, so I headed out anyway. I stopped at Sims Flat off Highway 5 between Redding And Dunsmuir, near Castle Crags State park. $15 a night at the USFS site is better than $35 a night at the state park. I was the only one there on a Saturday might. My, the benefits of off-season travel. But it was supposed to be a wild and wooly storm. So I picked the site least under the trees, and prayed a lot. The thunder was loud, but only lasted 20 minutes or so. The train horn was actually much more of a nuisance. The Sacramento River was flowing mightily, a reassurance that the drought just may be over. One can only hope.

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I knew it was supposed to rain all day, so I was hoping that by heading to the desert side I could at least lessen the impact. The next morning I crossed over 89 at McCloud towards Lava Beds NM. This was Lower Falls on the McCloud River.

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I pulled off the road and followed a FS road towards Medicine Lake, passing Jot Dean Cave. No way I was going to go in alone, but it sure looked interesting.

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When I got to Lava Beds, it was still raining a bit, and the only really interesting thing to do there is go into the lava tubes. Again, I wasn’t going to do that alone. Also, since I had recently been in a cave in Arkansas, they would have had to decontaminate me for white nosed syndrome (http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/disease_information/white-nose_syndrome/) which is prevalent in the eastern half of the country and they are hoping to avoid its spread into the western bats. So I just drove right through.

I hit Klamath Falls for a late lunch and did some shopping. By the time I headed out it was getting time to find a campsite. I headed up highway 66 towards Ashland, but the campgrounds I passed were closed for the season. I went down a dirt road to Topsy Lake BLM camp, but it was closed. One the way back out I noticed several fishermen’s access points off the road. I decided to do my first official “boon docking” experience. That was a huge step forward for me. But it was getting late, I had driven quite a bit and there wasn’t anything else to head towards. I was well off a seldom used road that I hoped was still on BLM land. It was actually a beautiful site, level with a wonderful view out the doorway.

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The next day was a slow wander through lower Oregon. I didn’t make great time because I did quite a bit of shopping. I ended up at Valley of the Rogue again. I guess I needed the tried and true old faithful after my adventurous night before. Plus it was time for a guaranteed shower opportunity.

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Down the 199 through Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park. The sun came out the minute I crossed the California border. I decided to try for Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwoods. It is 6 miles down a 15 mph dirt road, through glorious old growth forest, dripping in ferns and mosses. Then you break out into the beach and go another 2 miles to the campground. Wow, just beautiful. There are 20 sites, but only about 5 were filled that night.

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I saw an older FWC that had an interesting bike rack and way of turning the jacks sideways for travel. Very clever. I can’t carry the extra weight on my Tacoma, but for others it might be a good compromise between driving with them on, and down, or left behind.

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Roosevelt Elk were everywhere. And some arty-fartsy shots I took with my cell phone.

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I stopped at the Fort Bragg marina and had shrimp and chips at the SeaPal dockside. They were plump, juicy and delicious.

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Then I headed up Navarro River towards Boonville and home.

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Somehow I picked up a little decoration. And stayed at Hendy Woods State park. They wanted $40 a night, and I told them it was only $35 anywhere else. But not too many options there either.

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Then I went to the Charles M. Schultz “Peanuts” museum in Santa Rosa. It was very well done, but my favorite was the cartoon strips even in the bathroom.

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So a nice, simple get away. I didn’t come up with any new storage techniques for the camper, so that must mean I am finally settled in.

 

Where’s Waldo September 22, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Festival camping,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 10:37 pm
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Kind of hard to find me, huh?

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This is what Millpond festival camping is all about. At least I had great neighbors.

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And the view out the door was spectacular.

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And this is a pretty incredible setting for a music festival.

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Until… Oh-oh!

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and…

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So on the way home I stopped along the side of the road and watched the air attack. The loop times for the big pink drops were well over 45 minutes. I think they were coming from somewhere near Fresno and this was between Mammoth and June Lake. I am very grateful that I live so close to Columbia Air Attack Base since I live in the urban interface. When we had a fire a few miles away last year, they were making drops on a 15 minute interval and got it knocked down quickly. It is so fascinating to see the choreography between the helicopters and planes jockeying for position. Everyone cleared out when the big guys came in.

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I was headed over to Yosemite for an art class. I was camped in the deep shadow of Glacier Point (the best sites) but needed the sun for solar charging. So I set the solar panels up in the picnic ground daily. I used the jumbo pool noodles to pad the roof of the ATC cut to fit the inside of the solar frame and not fall out.

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and ran a steel cable from the tow loops to the frame of the panel and padlocked it to the frame.

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Then I coiled the cables and steel cable and bungied it to the tailgate latch point, so people wouldn’t snag on it. My local hardware store was great about making me a cable with two loops on the end since I don’t have the crimping tool necessary. $16 bucks is pretty cheap insurance against casual theft. Anyone with decent tools could get it, but if they want it that bad…

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I think in the near future we will get the panel attached to the roof. This schlepping it around isn’t fun. But I was able to do this in less than 5 minutes, so it wasn’t too bad.