Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Miscellania”

The Day Before

And I thought the Intrepid was a bit large. This Dodge Ram with XCamper was in the Little America Truck Stop in Flagstaff. It’s for sale, and no doubt they too are headed for the Expo.

Errand day went fine in Flagstaff, at least until I finished and parked in a Conoco lot north of town on US-89. A local fishing guide stopped by to ask about the Four Wheel and how difficult it was to lift the roof, so while his small child slept in his SUV, I explained the standard setup, explained the Grandby’s optional setup to support the old-school framed solar panels on it, then put him to work to lift the rear up. “Oh! That’s not bad at all!” he said, being young and fit. During our conversation, he told me that he grew up in Flagstaff and lamented the complete change in aura and events, going from lumberjack contests to politically correct eco fare. It’s always painful when a town loses its authenticity and differentiation, which in this case he blamed on transplants from Californistan.

Right after he took off, a guy pulled up and wanted to know if I’d like a TV. He had a smallish television and antenna that he claimed would pull in a station 35 miles away. Now, I desire to watch television about as much as I love going to cardiologists and dentists, so I politely declined. I was tired and figured a nap was in order, but the highway Read more…

The Sound of Music

The Photographic Studio and Audio Workshop at Rancho Begley, officially designated the “Command Center”.

It all started in the Defiant’s front “bedroom”, since converted by my son into a working office and library. Notice the record turntable in the far corner? Once I hit the road, I methodically sawed through literally hundreds of LPs, 45s and 78s to record them into raw digital form. With no space to store many boxes of records, this was the only way that I could continue to listen to the wide span of music and comedy that I’ve always enjoyed.

Talk about intense activity! Looking back, I don’t know how I kept at it so relentlessly – except for the realization that if I didn’t accomplish recording the whole pile of the most significant works (significant to me, anyway), then they’d have to be given away quickly or trashed without, and so disappear forever.

To cut the time needed to record each disk, they were all played at 78 RPM or whatever speed would allow them to play without skipping. Many records were worn, some were damaged, and nearly all presented the little clicks and scratches that characterize vinyl music. When that task was completed, the digital recordings stayed intact on a reliable hard drive. Now they’ve been waiting years for me to get back to them and translate them into a clean, listenable form that could play on a computer or smartphone accessing decent speakers.

They were recorded off the turntable using Audacity, a free and quite capable audio program. The first step to deal with the result is to pull each file up, rediscover what speed it was recorded at and then alter it to play properly within Audacity. It’s edited to whack off the extra nothingness at each end, as well as any pause recorded while the disc was flipped over to side B. Very few records are clean-sounding enough to export directly into an MP3 format, so that requires a translation into an .aiff file (or other format) that ClickRepair can deal with. ClickRepair is a very capable click removal program that fortunately can do a very credible job when allowed to operate automatically on its own. That generates a “cleaned” .aiff file that can be called back into Audacity or, when necessary, pulled into Denoise (created by the same guy who made ClickRepair) to get rid of background hiss. Whatever. Audacity can then be used to adjust the volume to workable levels, accomplish any final trimming, and export the file into a compact MP3 format that can be played on just about any device extant. To conserve limited hard disk space, the .aiff files must be deleted once the final MP# has been created.  Naturally, all this editing, cleaning and file format translation absorbs quite a bit of time to grind through.

So, as of late, my idyllic camping experience has more resembled a Read more…

A Shocking Discovery

Huh? White, branded shock absorbers from a new car dealer? Don’t mind the squiggle at top center – that’s the VIRB’s default display that indicates where you currently are along the recording’s total path. (It has a GPS sensor.) Here, I’m just beginning to head east on a trail.

When the Mighty Furd was having its front suspension rebuilt and new shock absorbers put on, all I looked at were the front shocks, which were easily seen. They’re black. I assumed that the rears were also black, since this set had to be ordered, and Ford won’t put on non-Ford parts that aren’t related to their OEM chain. They of course order a heap of parts from OEM vendors, most of which also sell aftermarket. But the original testing, evaluation and approvals of whatever they specify and order must run the gauntlet in order for Ford to be able to warranty them both as-delivered and as replacement parts. Dealers can of course install nearly anything the customer wants, but if they fail, you then only have recourse via the outfit that made the parts you wanted put on. Ford Motor won’t warranty them.

So here we have Ford-issued no-name shocks in front, and white Rancho shocks in the rear, and Ford Motor warranties them all for their usual two years. So the original black Ford-supplied rears are apparently out of production, and the Rancho-branded shocks are considered to be fully equivalent. This is not particularly surprising, since Ford now sells at least one pickup model wearing Rancho-branded shocks. As I wrote in an earlier post, the performance of this set feels equivalent to what the Mighty Furd was originally delivered with, unlike the Monroe Gas-Magnums that I later replaced them with.

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I was now curious as to what model of Ranchos these rear shocks are. After all, finding that out will in the future enable me to have them replaced with Ranchos all-’round, and more cheaply than having to go to Ford to get them. You can get any model of Rancho anywhere. So I emailed the “RanchoExtreme Team” to ask Read more…

NF-493 – The Movie

Well, due to its length of 29 minutes, not too many folks are going to suffer through this thing because it’s not relevant to how they camp or would want to camp if they could. Then again, if you harbor the same “get out there” delusions I do and want to find out what you can unknowingly get yourself into, then this is for you. All the trail surface variety and wild 3 MPH action is here. plus there’s all that blue sky on one side and mountainside on the other. Looking at the footage, it’s obvious that I dropped a wheel solidly into that erosion hole at ledge’s edge, and yet I can’t explain why no tire tracks can be found in the dust around the bad part of it. I’ll have to leave that mystery as it is. Not being a Read more…

NF-593 – The Movie

My apologies: the route is NF-493. This error is in the video as well, so all subscribers have received another notification to a corrected post and video in addition to this now-bogus one. The corrected post is here.


Campsploring Turned 4-Wheeling

Even this flat rock shows why a tire’s shoulder wrap can become vital when rocky roads loom.

Yesterday, I attempted the trip from my campsite near Cottonwood to Mingus Mountain Recreation Area via fire roads. And yes, “attempted” means that I didn’t make it. As I mentioned in my previous post, the blessing of “Approved for Camping” on any National Forest MVUM implies neither areas usable for camping, nor passable conditions for anything short of a Unimog.

After picking up a package in town, I doubled back to my campsite on NF-593 and then kept going. The shipment didn’t arrive until about 3:30, so that signaled that time might become an issue in making this trek. As soon as Read more…

Why I Don’t Overland

Photo from

What I have recently begun, this year’s tour of the western part of the U.S., is basically a drawn-out and circuitous commute from Arizona to Illinois and back. Along the way, I hope to find some very nice camps as well as boondocking spots which may be difficult to access with more formidable RVs.

Although I’m headed for the Overland Expo West on this leg, I do not “Overland”. See, overlanding at its essence involves: Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures.” It’s a broadening experience centering on the journey itself, neither a race to get somewhere nor sticking around each campsite for weeks. Because of potential resupply issues over long distances across remote areas, it requires careful pre-planning and preparation. Even calling what I do “adventure travel” would be quite a stretch. Right now, I’m Adventure Loitering. I admit that I do incorporate certain elements needed for Read more…

The Skipping Record

In between bouts of working on the camper, I was breezing through some YouTube event coverage, and one video of an interview with a demonstrator immediately brought to mind a scene from a Monte Python movie. The first 6 minutes of the 9-minute clip below are of Vladimir Jaffe, a former citizen of the former USSR, speaking with a young idealist about how Socialism is supposed to work. I had to relentlessly pare it down just to get it to its current length, and it’s almost tolerable. Almost, but not quite.

Personally, I can’t think of any socialist country since 1900 where a dictator has not quickly emerged to take and hold power by coercion and/or force, demonstrating that there’s a big difference between idealist theory and human reality, but that’s just me. I also note that the Soviet constitution was supposedly modeled after our own, but they just ignore it in practice. Anyway, the last 3 minutes is the movie scene that the interview brought to mind. You decide – shall we have a “king anointed by a watery tart”, or a workers paradise? Or perhaps something in between?

More New Friends, More Opportunities!

Scum of the Earth Dept:

Now that I’m in the final throes of prepping for departure, there’s no end to the offers of help for anyone on the Internet! The trend seems to try to legitimize the larceny by including links to actual events or legitimate websites. Here are the two latest:

To: Undisclosed recipients:;

“Dear friend,
This is a personal email directed to you. I am Patricia Busking, my fiancée and I won a Jackpot Lottery of $393Million US Dollars in Aug. 25, 2017, and have voluntarily decided to donate the sum of $1,480,000.00 USD to you as part of our own charity project to improve the lot of 5 unknown lucky individuals all over the world plus 15 close friends and family. If you have received this email then you are one of the lucky recipients and Please contact my legal adviser Barr. Dominic based in United Kingdom with the email below.
Endeavor to provide him your donation cod (Code: BVTUTU883) and your details as requested bellow: Read more…

An Amusing Ad

One of the things that keeps me away from broadcast TV here is all of the ads, all of them awful. Then when they repeat every ten minutes, it becomes an endurance contest. At least the online places that push ads often let you skip them. Well, while researching F-250 front wheel hub servicing, I stumbled upon one that I consider worth not skipping. Now and then, one of these ad firms earn their money. See what you think.

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