Seekin' My World

Brenda's wanderings and wishings

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.

 

 

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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 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.

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. 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.

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.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

Organizing, again July 23, 2016

I spent some time in the Bobcat today fixing a few things that bugged me. And documenting.

This is how I keep my curtain hooked while in transit. It keeps the other end from coming off the hook and making me put my fat hand in a very small space. It also keeps the Campsite Occupied sign, my solar oven panels, and the little folding table I have there from sliding out. Win-win. Have you heard of a Copenhagen cooker. I love it.  http://www.sclaustoys.com/Solar%20Oven.html Currently $44 and well worth it. Takes up practically no space at all and provides options.

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I got tired of having to look through all four tubs to find what I was looking for. I sorted them all into matched purposes, and labeled the fronts with big titles and tiny inventories. I know I will end up changing it, but at least it is a start.

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I like putting my pillows here because they get just a little squished when I lower the top, but they do slide on the slick formica. So I had been using velcro and shoelaces, but it was starting to pull off the wall. So I bought some D rings on flaps that can be screwed in. I used the preexisting holes from the bed slide and it doesn’t impact that purpose at all.

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In my solar post below, I never really got a good shot of the connection and the way the carabiner takes the weight off the connection. The previous post showed the connector, a carabiner and two bungie cord ends.

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Solar Happy Dance July 10, 2016

Filed under: Modifications,Solar panels — Sierrashadow @ 3:09 am
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It was a long stretch between panel arrival to installation, but we finally have juice. My poor husband had to work in tight quarters, and we put it off the week the temps were hovering around 100.

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I had purchased the 40 foot extension cord intending to cut it in half and use the cut ends with the plug that ATC provided when we ordered the Solar wiring package. But I was overruled. Warren wanted to buy 2 twenty footers (another delay). The beauty of his idea is I can use the 2 twenty footers normally and if I need 40 foot, the two cables can be connected to make a 40 footer to go with the one I bought (you need two cables +/- from the panel to the rig).

Here is my idea for support legs to angle the panel for morning and evening operation. I am using three pieces of PVC pipe and 2 90 degree elbows to make a large U shape. I made 2 elastic bands with round elastic and large buttons. The loop is the same size as the pipe. The panel has holes in the back of the frame. The loop goes through those holes and the button keeps it from going all the way through. Then the pipe gets threaded through the loops supporting the bottom of the U, which is really the top of the support. The bottom of the pipes have tie wrap loops to stake it down. I haven’t glued the PVC together so I can take it apart for transit. This is totally untested, but you have to start somewhere.

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Warren was concerned about the weight of the cables pulling on the butt connectors between the Renogy cables and the connector provided by ATC. So he rigged up a carabiner on the Jack mount point. Then two old fashioned bungee hooks that take the weight off  everything above that. That way if anyone trips over the cables, they won’t yank the whole thing out either. Gotta love that clever man.

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Fan modification June 27, 2016

Filed under: Modifications — Sierrashadow @ 5:12 pm
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My husband is such a champ! I found a thread on Wander the west about buying a part from China to change the fan settings on the factory installed Fantastic Fan.

http://www.wanderthewest.com/forum/topic/10848-fantastic-fan-variable-speed-control/

So I bought the part (the larger one suggested later in the thread) without asking him if he could do it. The part was dirt cheap, so it wasn’t going to bother me if he said no. But he dug in and did it. Not without some grumbling, but at least no cursing (not that he ever does). The bigger part almost didn’t fit but we finally found a way that involved putting the wires in opposite of the logical direction. My job was the hot gluing. He blew a fuse and didn’t realize it, so it took him longer than expected to figure out the wiring, but he did. It works so well!

Now I have fully adjustable speed control down to a slow, silent spin. That was my complaint, even the lowest factory setting was too fast and loud.

Next he gets to install the Renogy solar panel I bought. ATC did the solar wiring package, but there is still the matter of installing the controller and connecting to the battery.

Like I said, what a champ!