Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

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.

Morro Bay sunset

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.

Ojai lunch

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.

 

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.

 

Mouse nest August 25, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels — Sierrashadow @ 9:42 pm
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air filter with mouse nest

Took my car in for service and they said I had a mouse nest. I guess that is the penalty for hanging out in nature. I wonder if there is anything you can do to prevent this? I hear they don’t like peppermint essential oil, but not sure I want to put it directly on the filter. Maybe putting a wad in the glove box (right next door) would be enough.

 

Clark Fork (Not Clark’s) Highway 108 August 15, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations,Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 5:12 am
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I had never noticed that it is not possessive. It is almost hard to say it without the s on the end. Anyway, I needed a quick get away in my  C.O.W. (Cabin on Wheels) to escape the heat. This summer had a series of trips with family and friends that didn’t involve using the camper. I did enjoy pup tent camping again when we went to Arkansas, but the ground got pretty old after just a few days, even with the 3.5″ REI pad. I like the creature comforts that the camper provides.

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This was the first trip that used the solar panel, even though I probably could have gotten away without it for just the one night. I devised a good transport system. The Tacoma has loops on the seat bottoms to lift for storage underneath. I hooked a bungie through this loop and then up around the pole for the headrest. It didn’t budge at all.

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I had forgotten that Clark Fork has more than the usual campground cacophony. In addition to the college kids up late laughing around the campfire, there was a herd of cattle in the adjoining meadow with cow bells. They all have a similar pitch, but with slight variations. Loud near sundown, but settling down to faint all night. Actually it is kind of relaxing.

I went in to check out a new campground I heard about near Beardsley Reservoir. I almost don’t want to share since it is such a gem. TeleLi puLaya (Black Oak)  http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/stanislaus/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=80290&actid=29 has 20 sites and opened in 2014. Several of the sites sit right on the edge of the canyon and have fabulous views. I didn’t get pictures, but the weblink has nice ones. I also checked out the Beardsley campground across the dam, but they are pretty crammed together and don’t have lake access, not my style. But since I was down there I headed over to the day use area and had a picnic lunch and read my book for a while. Lots of families enjoying the lake, but way calmer than Pinecrest would have been. I refuse to go to Pinecrest between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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One full year of retirement and owning my ATC Bobcat. As my friends get ready to begin another year, I sure don’t miss the stress I see in their faces. I am looking forward to the start of the school year so the campgrounds will be quiet and available again.

 

Overdue post Strawberry Festival June 28, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Festival camping — Sierrashadow @ 4:40 am
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I wasn’t going to do this because I didn’t get a picture of the actual camp, but I have so few readers, that when one makes a special request, I feel obligated to comply. Here’s to you, Ski3pin, wish I knew your real name.

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As a Tuolumne County resident, it pains me that the Festival isn’t at Evergreen – Camp Mather anymore due to the Rim Fire, but if you have to move, the Nevada County Fairgrounds is a pretty nice substitute. Their trees are in much better shape than ours. Bark Beetle is doing a number on the foothills.

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I also go to a festival in Canso, Nova Scotia (five times in 9 years – crazy, but true) and have seen Dave Gunning every time. So when he was at Millpond last year and Strawberry this year, I had to go and cheer for the guy. He has really developed as a performer.

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I also like to support the locals that I know. Cynthia Restivo (here) and BZ Smith are amazing storytellers. BZ’s story at the Sunday Revival was charming, a metaphor for the changes that Strawberry has endured in recent years. It was well received. Below is the Revival crowd.

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Like I said, I somehow didn’t get a picture of the campsite. They really pack them in. I had to claim two sites since my friend was driving up from L.A. I found a level spot for her tent, and used my Lynx levelers to create a level place for me. The only problem was the two year old next door. He woke up crying every morning, but other than that, they were a charming family.

Parking for 4 days was a test of the refrigerator’s draining the battery. It only lasted a day and a half, and running the truck for 20 minutes didn’t help much. So I came home and bought a Renogy Solar panel online. Now the fun starts trying to decide how to set it up. Portable or fixed mount? Hmmm…