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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Kitchen cabinet January 16, 2017

Filed under: Stuff I carry — Sierrashadow @ 8:46 pm
Tags: , ,

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.

 

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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Carizzo Plain April 10, 2016

 

This was the weekend for the Wander the West get together at Carizzo Plain. I got there but couldn’t find the dispersed camp, even though I went back and forth twice. It was raining and mucky, and I just chickened out. Headed for Morro Bay instead. I hope a good time was had by all, and I look forward to the reports.

Carizzo entrance      WTW mud

I have a few mods to share. I made a campsite occupied sign out of plastic corrugated sign material. It is called Coroplast. It is lightweight and waterproof. It came with a flimsy metal stake for putting in lawns, but the Death Valley gravel wouldn’t let it penetrate. So now I just clip it to 2 one gallon water bottles. I am hoping this solves my ongoing problem with losing my site even though I paid for it. Unfortunately with a camper you take it all with you. And I don’t want to leave anything too valuable out to claim it.

sign2      sign 1
With some leftover I made two turnbuckle covers that have screening to allow air flow without bugs. It really helps when the fan is sucking out to have cooler air coming in.  I blatantly copied this but can’t for the life of me find it now. He used a picture frame and bungee cords. Mine is lighter and uses the existing slides to keep it in.

vent 1     vent 3    vent 2

I also hung a cargo net I had leftover from my Toyota Highlander from the knobs on the sliding cubbies. It corrals my shoes yet allows opening the cubbies if necessary. I copied this from Bill Harr (Bill’s version). His is first, mine is next.

billharr shoes     net 1

I also got pictures of the ironing board inside as a table, since I shared it on WTW but didn’t have a picture.

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I also needed a better way to corral my step stool. I lost the carpeted area that held it with velcro when I installed the Dometic. So I made two loops through the heater vents with zip ties. That lets me use a bungee to connect around the step. I am really trying not to make any holes in my rig. Takes some creativity, but that is half the fun.

step bungie     step bungie 2

This was the first trip with the Dometic and I have to figure out how to pack it better. But I was so pleased with the way it operated. My secondary battery was a little low when I left, so it was having trouble coming down to temperature, plus I put warm drinks in instead of pre-chilled as advised. So I grabbed the ice chest just in case. But in retrospect, the ice chest rides well in the space, is velcroed down, and fits more cargo than the Action Packer I usually put staple food supplies in, so I will probably switch the ice chest to my food locker. If I pack it with interior containers, I would have the benefit of having an extra ice chest if necessary. Double win! Plus the nice flat, metal top could be cooked on if necessary due to poor weather (like this weekend).

So it was an interesting trip with some high points and some low points, but the adventure continues.

 

Dometic Fridge March 13, 2016

Dometic in place

So excited, I got my Dometic CF-040AC110 CoolFreeze Gray Refrigerator from Amazon, through Camper’s Paradise for $539.00. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) It was a good price and didn’t have shipping or taxes added to it. I ordered it on March 8 and it arrived on March 11. I live in a rural area that takes an extra day or two to get anything from UPS or Fedex. So I was very pleased with the delivery time. The 35 and the 40 both take up the same footprint, and since they were the same price, I went for the larger, taller unit. It is a good thing that the lid comes off, because it wouldn’t lift fully with the camper top down.

Dometic lid lift

I used footman’s loops and web strapping to secure it. For now I only put two straps on and it seems to be holding, but I will have to see what happens fully loaded and on rough roads. I may put in an L bracket on the front edge to keep it from sliding.

Dometic strap down     Dometic strap close

It sure came down to the set temperature quickly. I put the external sensor from my thermometer into the fridge to see what it was running. There is quite a difference between what the external thermometer says and the digital readout of the unit. But I will know better when I test it with real food. It is also very quiet when running, shouldn’t effect my sleep at all.

I did put two of the Crystal Geyser 1 gallon jugs in, just to see. I haven’t really got a good place to store them and I like chilled water much better than lukewarm. They fit side by side well, but I don’t think 4 would fit. Oh, look, it does! No room for anything else though. (Where are the emoticons when you need them.) Insert “grin” here.

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I really debated where to place it. I wanted to be able to access it from the ground, so I am chancing that the heater (which is right under it, behind the step stool) won’t interfere. This also places the weight pretty far back, but we will see. The provided cord reached the 12V socket, just barely. And there is still room for my ironing board and Thermarest pad to ride back there.

Dometic cord stretch

If it hadn’t, I would have been forced to put it at the other end of the bench, putting the weight directly over the wheels. It may still end up there, but for now I am pleased. The handle also nicely solved the problem I was having of things shifting and hitting the switches for the external LED flood lights and amber porch light.

Full view     Dometic switches

I also pulled a few things out of the couch storage that I haven’t used. No reason to keep carting junk around. And it made room for two more gallons of water in front of the battery and all the kitchen stuff to be consolidated at the back end, for ground access. Adaptations based on last week’s trip.

Anyone know how to store a cast iron pan so that it doesn’t rust? I am not a cast iron newbie. I “understand” seasoning.  I’ve been using it in the house for years, but in the camper I am already having trouble.

Edit: I liked the way the water bottles fit in so I cut the top off and use them as organizers in the Dometic fridge.

      

 

Death Valley 2016 March 3, 2016

One shouldn’t start their trip with a camper shell this dirty, but the California Central Valley is a buggy place. Pulled in to Red Rocks State Park off Highway 14 as a possible camp spot, but for $25 a night they were just too close together and blah for me.

1 buggies   2 Red rocks

Went on up the road to Fossil Falls BLM campground and pulled in just at dusk. Got the last site and it was perfect. And free! Saw my first wildflower, with many more to come.

3 Fossil Falls   4 flowers

Got up early and entered Death Valley through Panamint Springs. What a dramatic way to enter the park. Glad I wasn’t towing a vehicle down that decline though. Love my ATC!

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I need a better camera than my cell phone, but the flowers were amazing.

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I don’t know what this orange growth is, but in college (many years ago) my roommate draped it over her head as a wig. I was still too clean to attempt that!

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I drove out to Aguereberry Point, which was not too bad a gravel road. I didn’t go all the way to the top, but far enough to get the overlook into the Badwater basin. The tip of the antenna in the second photo is where I was at Aguereberry Point from down on the flats at Badwater.

11 Auberry   12 Badwater antenna

Obligatory Badwater photo. Artist’s Palette is an amazing drive and I was glad to do it in the late afternoon to get a better contrast. The clouds also helped with contrast too.

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I had seen this gal out scrambling the rocks with her boyfriend. Not the usual attire for Death Valley. Must have been a day trip from Vegas.

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Got an edge site at Sunset campground. I need to come up with a better “campsite reserved” system. My site was stolen again even though I had the tag posted on the pole. Fortunately the site next door was open and equally good (ha – they are all about the same, kind of like parking in a drive in theater only level).

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A fellow Wander The West member wandered by and said, ”You must be Bseek?” I feel a little famous, or is it just a small, tight group? Anyway it was good to put faces to the code names from the forum.

I decided to cook dinner since the Resort was so expensive. They know they have you over a barrel since they are the only game in town. I am refining the system to cook on the ironing board, and everything is accessible in the camper from the ground level. Ice chest on the bench to the left, floor as a staging area, and pot & utensil storage to the right under the couch. See the black and silver object just above the California map? That is my 12V RoadPro oven. I made cookies (well baked them anyway). I pulled a few frozen dough globs from home and baked them in camp. Yum! Since it gets dark earlier in the winter, it is nice to have the rear LED lights, although they are a little too bright for neighborliness.

19 cook floor     21 cook set up

I have made four improvements to the sleeping compartment since my last trip. One was putting a sheet on the mattress. Much nicer. Second, I use a Thermarest camp pad as a headboard. Keeps my hands and head much warmer since I don’t have the Arctic Pack option. Third, I covered the vent with a reflectix pad using a few command picture hangars. They are like Velcro that sticks together, but can be separated easily. And if it doesn’t work, you just pull on the command strip and it releases cleanly. Insulation and darkness since the cover is transparent. And the most controversial change is that I mangled out the rivets on my lifter bar attached at the top of that shiny silver frame on the wooden panel. I was just so dang tired of bonking my head on it. It really opens up the space, and since I am the only one lifting and lowering, I know to be careful to keep it engaged in the holes when lifting/lowering. I wouldn’t do it unless I had the exterior lifting shocks to keep the roof up. I may rethink it if I get into any howling windstorms, but for now it is a big improvement.  (before and after)

img_5065   22 bed new     23 reflectix vent cover

I’ll leave you with this hint of where I went next.

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Morro Bay January 20, 2016

Filed under: Bobcat travels,Destinations — Sierrashadow @ 10:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

Now this is why I travel!

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Just a little trip to Morro Bay, Hearst Castle and Pinnacles. The Elephant Seals were birthing pups, and they squeal and whine for milk. The bulls are guarding their territories, but I didn’t see any true clashes.

e seals lots e seals

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The weather waffled between sunny and warm to foggy and rainy. Most of the time it rained at night, and again I enjoyed the pitter patter on the roof. The surf on the breakwater was booming because of the storm. I am enjoying off season travel.

Morro waves   Morro sun

I gave a tour of my rig to a couple who were interested in the ATC. My friend reminded me I stalked people for years before buying my own, so I guess it is payback.

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This trip I learned if I clip the front curtain to the thermostat it keeps just enough tension on the hook that I don’t have to squeeze my hand between the propane box and the front wall trying to get it on the Command hook. I also used the heater each night and there was a lot of condensation. So next trip I am going to bring my 40 year old Thermorest pad to use as a “headboard”. I was using my down jacket around my hand to keep it warm. But it got pretty wet.