Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Standing Pat

An unnecessarily elaborate way to camp, but a wonderfully convenient and enjoyable way to live.

An unnecessarily elaborate way to camp, but a wonderfully convenient and enjoyable way to live.

Having purged tanks at the LTVA dump station Thursday, and stocked up with fresh food on a run to Parker Friday, I’m now ready to get back in the groove and see how long I can leave the Mighty Furd unused in camp. That should be awhile, perhaps longer than it should sit unstarted. I’ll be wiring in a little 10-watt solar panel to keep its battery topped up and desulfated, if only I can track down the special and now spare solar controller reserved for that task. See, I tucked it away someplace safe while it was at the Ford dealer, and now the challenge is to figure out once more where that safe place was. Ever do that? I have to conduct such searches every now and then. It’s here somewhere!

Although the Defiant is decently leveled out nearly a football field away from my nearest neighbor here at the LTVA in Quartzsite, it was necessary to use one of two long boards that I keep specifically for that job. Getting the trailer level is necessary since the fridge/freezer depends on it for efficiency, and the various cabinet doors as well as the bathroom door will want to swing this way or that if it isn’t close to perfect. Using boards under the tires can become a nuisance to set up as well as store however, and one cracked in half on some particularly uneven ground near the Grand Canyon awhile back. At some dump stations, like in Wickenburg, Arizona, the Ford needs to climb up on smaller 2x4s on one side to get the Tankmin waste tank at least level, if not positively tilted to drain. Otherwise, the rinse-out process will not be as effective, and its drain hose will be be more prone to clogging. So around Rancho Begley, level is a serious detail.

But the twin 2″x6″x4′ boards for the trailer take up a lot of space in the truck bed, and aren’t so delightful to monkey with when trying to get the trailer up on them just so. It can be quite a process. A few campsites have needed more lift than they offer, too. So when I spotted a couple of fairly compact Anderson levelers that potentially do the same job with considerably less monkeying, I got interested. They are curved ramps that stay with the tire instead of staying flat on the ground. So, once in place, leveling is merely a matter of pulling the trailer forward or back slightly and keeping an eye on the trailer’s level gauge. Once happy, stick the included chock underneath each ramp, and the tires no longer think they are on a slope. Done. Since the Defiant’s already up on a board, I won’t be disturbing my existing setup until I break camp for Yuma. But when I do depart, those two existing boards will be residing in the local dumpster, and good riddance. There is some question of using the Anderson ramps on closely-spaced tandem axles, but I’ll clear that hurdle when I get to it. I’ll post a full usage review (like anyone would care) when I first put them to use.

Photo by This is the theory, but let's see how it actually works out on the Mighty Defiant.

Photo by This is the theory, but let’s see how it actually works out on the Mighty Defiant.

Lastly, since I no longer have any tolerance for broadcast TV and live in happy ignorance, I’ve splurged and added to my DVD collection with some not-so-serious media. This was a result of grabbing some of my fav Disney Goofy cartoons of the 1950s from YouTube, and they reminded me of several Looney Tunes classics from Warner Brothers that I’ve always gotten a kick out of. More than several, as I began to realize. Really good cartoons weather repeated viewing even better than really good movies, so I sprung for DVDs. Twenty-four DVDs in a massive collection. Why mince around? Purchased as a complete group, the price was right. At about sixty animated shorts per each of six four-disc sets in the so-called Golden Collection, mixed with my low threshold of entertainment, I should be sick of Warner Brothers cartoons in no time!

The "Rabbit of Seville".

The “Rabbit of Seville”.

I think it’s worth noting that the Looney Tunes series, when the characters hit their stride by the 1940s and 1950s, were not developed for children. As always, they were built to precede the main films in movie houses, which meant adult audiences. The transition to television came as the theaters lost ground, but TV didn’t pay its way, and the end for Looney Tunes was set in motion. “Progress” often leaves some good in its wake, along with obsolescence. To amuse adults in this series, the bar for image, action, voice, music, sound effects, subject, and character development had to be set considerably higher than for the kiddie fare. There’s a lot of background material included in this DVD set, and if you can handle timeless humor, parody and stereotyping, it’s a bargain.

With 95 being a hazardous death trap for cyclists, the maintenance trails for utility poles become the preferred alternative.

With 95 being a hazardous death trap for cyclists, the maintenance trails for utility poles become the preferred alternative.

I took the Evelo Aurora e-bike out for a 10-mile jaunt the other day to locate another camper, and found Highway 95 running toward Yuma to be way too creepy and dangerous for bicycle travel. The pavement stops at the sideline stripe, and the edge of the pavement then drops down abruptly into a highly-sloped loose gravel shoulder. Staying on the pavement is a good way to get tagged by passing traffic, and picking one’s way along the lower parts of the shoulder is a very slow and tedious process. Where available, the maintenance trails for utility poles become a workable alternative, though they become a challenge wherever they cross washes.

I did find two things which I now hope to investigate. One is an ATV trail that crosses the broad main wash going through Quartzite, starting about two miles south of the center of town. It should be a doozy, since it combines violent dips and rises with deep sand and gravel. But it’s something to check out.

I also have in mind an exploratory trip toward Blythe, California, some 20 miles west of Quartzsite. There appears to be a roadway/trail running alongside I-10, but I have no idea whether it’s a real road throughout, or a Jeep trail in spots with some violent climbs and descents. Blythe is a usable stop for food and hardware, a little more than half the distance to Parker. Carrying a spare battery pack for insurance, the Aurora is easily capable of that round-trip distance, but my posterior is not. So my goal will be to try to make it to at least Ehrenburg, just short of the Arizona-California border, road permitting. This little butt-buster will need to wait a couple of days at least, since a cool front with accompanying high winds are due in tomorrow. I plan to be staying in the rocking trailer, keeping an eye on the solar panels and watching the dust blow around. After that though, anything goes.

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14 thoughts on “Standing Pat

  1. Rod Duell on said:

    Good plan Doug on those levelers, I’ll want to check them out myself. BTW, how much do you actually pedal the EVO these days. Is it practical, or just too heavy? Also I noticed in the photos that your Mtb is still hanging on the back of the trailer. Do you ever find use for that?

    • Oh, I pedal the e-bike nearly all the time, Rod. I never ride it with power switched off, since it is heavy and the rear N360 hub does have some inherent drag. But at a slow pace, many’s the time I look down and find the wattmeter reading zero draw, even with the trailer attached. There are times when I use the throttle without pedaling, mainly in short spans where changing the gear or pedal assist level just isn’t worth it. Handy in places where the terrain/speed is such that I want to concentrate on handling and balance, too. Invaluable when starting up in sand, or uphill.

      I never ride the Raleigh any more, principally because I swapped the Aurora’s seat onto it, which I can’t survive on long. And the Aurora’s N360 hub has ruined me for going back to fighting with derailleurs. I’m keeping it only as long as it takes to hand it off to another camper’s son, and it’s just a matter of time and logistics to get it into his hands.

      After a day on the road, getting the trailer properly oriented to the sun for the panels is enough of a nuisance for me without adding the long process of seeing what combination of boards work to get it level. And all that prolonged idling on the diesel engine just before shutting it down isn’t good for it in the long run, so anything I can do to cut the time needed to get the trailer set in place is a win all around.

      Good comment!

  2. Linda Sand on said:

    In the Ehrenburg area you might meet some of Bob’s group and offer gas money for a ride the rest of the way into Blythe. Not sure who is where right now, though.

    • Nyahhhh! Thank you Linda, but that’s too practical! And I wouldn’t consider asking someone to break camp just to get me further along on a bike ride, if it wasn’t life or death. My real goal is not to actually reach Blythe on some practical mission yet, but to see how much punishment my butt can take, and what the battery capacity is in one shot. The e-bike is capable of much greater distances than I can manage, I’ve found, and my petute is apparently taking its sweet time in getting conditioned to suit the task. Longer time than I expected, but I’m not 20 any more. So, what round trip distance CAN I manage? I’d like to find out, and then work to extend it. Do I need to modify the seat? Since one of my goals is to avoid the vehicle wear and tear of repeated (maximum) 50-mile errands for supplies, I need to make that happen on the e-bike. Only way I know of to do that is to see where I am along those lines, and get conditioned to it. You’ve made an excellent suggestion for my getting there, but this is more of an exploratory experiment. The situation in Yuma will be even a little farther away! If I can avoid adding that mileage onto the Ford, I’ll be thrilled.

  3. The 3rd try for this remark, this brand of blog will not take my reply if I include a URL for my web site. If I go back & try it with out the URL it tells me it’s a duplicate entry. Let’s see if I can leave something this time, it’s different & there is no URL.

    I went to an electric refrigerator but I always notice when the level is off if I’m frying an egg.

    • Sorry for the hassle, Rob. I’d actually like the thing to display commenters’ websites, but am not seeing anything in settings controlling that. Best alternative is to add your URL within your comment, like at the end. The software will supposedly allow up to two active links.

      On leveling, it’s the little everyday things that make the difference. You must have a fairly stout battery/solar system, unless you’re sticking to campgrounds with hookups!

  4. Camilla on said:

    Time to buy a more comfy seat and get off that butt buster! They have some great ones out there!

    • No can do, Camilla. I can try a different hornless seat, some of which are listed in a link in this post, but that’s about it. The Aurora’s standard Velo seat is pretty comfy, but I can only do 8 miles on it, and then wait several days before riding again. The Spiderflex does not present the same issues, and is quite comfortable, but racking up a lot of seat time in hours means that your two “sit points” have to be firmed up by practice. I may try some kooky layer of thin padding on top just to experiment, but the basic hornless design stays.

  5. I Doug, I got set up yesterday at LTVA south.
    Drove right past Parker.
    Might be nice to visit before you head out.
    I have some of those leveling ramps…..not worth a dam imho….to sudden of a change….get level, putthe truck in park and everything changes before I can get outand chuck it.
    I left them in Utah carried wood lol

    • Good! Looking forward to it.

      And that’s worth knowing on those ramps, since the slop in the drivetrain doesn’t improve with age! I guess I’ll be finding out how much slop is in the parking brakes too, and whether I can get the knack of going “too far” and letting it take up its slack. I’m not dealing with nearly as much weight as you, so I’m sticking with an ignorant optimism until I can try them out. Now I’m tempted to drop panels and hitch up just to see what the story is with my combo!

  6. What is that DVD set called? I suspect it will take up too much room in my limited space, but I love those old cartoons.

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