Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

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.

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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.

 

Couch modification May 6, 2017

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 5:33 am
Tags: , , , , ,

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 to sleep 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 in stealth mode 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. The ironing board is too cumbersome to deploy unless necessary (like rain, etc.)

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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. I watched him catch at least four.

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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.