Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “experiences”

A Tired Tire Day

This thing has been parked by the street since I've been here, for sale.

This thing has been parked by the street since I’ve been here, for sale.

I’ve been passing an old but fine Chevy K-20 pickup each time on my way to the grocery, hardware store or laundromat in West Wendover, NV. So I thought I’d post some pics. No price was posted, and it’s been there quite a while, so either he’s getting nothing but calls offering “$300 an’ my seester”, or he’s unjustifiably high on asking price. Hard to guess, because there just aren’t that many people in Wendover and West Wendover combined. By the way, the title for this post does not refer to its tires, which Read more…

Reviews As Viewpoints of Life


In my quest to preplan a stay in Parker, AZ to get the Mighty Furd worked on, I was researching both free boondocking possibilities and commercial campsites in the area that were within striking distance of the Ford dealership in town. That’s just in case I had to leave the Ford there, waiting for parts, or whatever. You know how that goes. The Defiant would be stranded for several days in such a case, maybe without being able to deploy its solar panels.

One option is the Blue Water RV Park, located as part of a casino just outside of town. What struck me was reading three contrasting reviews, and I find such contrasts often. Sometimes gripes are legitimate, and sometimes, it’s the pot calling the kettle black. But the three reviews that I found notable seemed to reflect Read more…

A Change in Operating Philosophies

Children tend to see more solutions than problems.

Children tend to see more solutions than problems.

Changing how you approach different events or circumstances in life is never easy. When your livelihood is based on the Marine-style necessity of “improvise, adapt, overcome”, it’s pretty difficult to change mindsets later, in the Autumn of one’s years, so to speak. The saying that “when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” applies to the perception of obstacles or problems. But there are times to kick the walls down, and times to go with the flow, and learning to sense which is which can be a vague, touchy-feely puzzle for those unfamiliar with any alternate approach. There’s no imperative to change mindsets of course, but as the physical and emotional energy resources to back up a “kick-the-walls-down” approach begin to gradually drain away, it can become a good idea to learn to discern and prioritize. Persist And Pursue on some things, and let some things percolate out – or not – on their own. As the old country song goes, “know when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em”.

Many – probably most – people already know these things by rote, and learned early. I never caught on, myself. Child or adult, the only way anything ever seemed to work for me was to take a brute force approach. Brick wall? Push through, find a way over, under, or find a way around and go on to the next. Nothing ever seemed to come easily. Paths choked with difficult obstacles. Persist. Find a way. The needs of food, housing and family merely motivate one to shove harder or pursue more doggedly. As a technique, it can work. At a price.

This approach was magnified by my choosing to Read more…

Damage Control! Report!

Solar panel #4 safely on the ground after being found hanging on one hook.

Solar panel #4 safely on the ground after being found hanging on one hook.

RVs are heavy – ask anyone at a fuel stop. But they also have a very large sail area, a trait which rarely works in their favor. They are highly subject to bad weather and, out west, there’s plenty of that to go around in the late summer.

A couple of nights ago, a very high wind came up in camp, one that wasn’t in any forecast. The forecasts said current wind was and would remain at 6 MPH. Night winds haven’t been unusual here in Wendover, blowing in well after sunset and rotating around in all directions for an hour or so. Often, it’s like throwing a switch on a fan.

Well, this one was a doozy. The good news was that it decided to blow in pretty much straight from the nose of the trailer, which poses the least threat to the Kleenex box aerodynamics of the Defiant. Wheel locks between each pair of trailer tires work quite well to resist any movement.

The wind had started in as usual, but didn’t let up this time, and I stayed up just short of midnight just to Read more…

How Goes the Battle?

The lowest edge of the Silver Island Mountains, where I'm camped.

The lowest edge of the Silver Island Mountains, where I’m camped.

Camping at the foot of the Silver Island Mountains in August has been interesting so far. The heat each day has been predicted to be around 90, which is well above my comfort zone. Actually, the predicted highs are pure air temperatures, and may be correct. But as is common in desert areas, you’re actually camping in radiated heat as well, which comes off of vehicles as well as the ground. That bumps shaded thermometer temperatures up another 5 degrees at least, a perceptible difference when you stand in an open doorway or in front of a window. It’s predicted to hit 93 today and 94 tomorrow before dropping into the high 80s. That means I’ll be enjoying close to 100 degree heat until the break. Needless to say, I’m taking it easy for now!

The camper’s old Dometic refrigerator is not particularly happy about it, either. Even running at full throttle on propane, temps in the lower section have been edging up to 50 during the daytime, prompting me to clear its propane burner and stow purchased ice inside it in an attempt to help it out. It does help, but not as much as I’d hoped. I’d like to mount a tarp or other sunscreen in front of the unit’s exterior wall, but a good way to mount it without blowing away or stressing the solar panel hardware is not popping up, and the sole hardware store here in Wendover is not outfitted well at all, and that’s putting it politely.

The Vermin Battle has had mixed results. Last year, at a location about a quarter mile away, the camper was eventually overrun with mice, and the flies were incredible. I actually had multiple fly strips hanging from the ceiling then. This year, the fly count is minimal, and I’ve had no mouse intrusions. The new Tri-Level Vermin Defensive System (TVDS) appears to be holding so far. That system consists of two or three ultrasonic repellers inside, as well as baited snap traps in key locations. Outside, a Victor Tin Cat mass trap acts as a lure away from the trailer. It has caught two mice so far, apparently intercepting them before they could get to the trailer.

What I hadn’t expected were chipmunks. Active, cheery little creatures that scamper about in amazing quantity here. Larger than mice and more agile, the openings in the Tin Cat pose no threat to them. None have tried to come into the camper, so they have been of no concern – until I heard one methodically tearing the felt-like lining out of the trailer’s white tire covers. Then I noticed one disappear up into the front end of the Ford. Uh-oh. Opening the hood revealed a nest the size of a hat on top of one of the two batteries, and an annoyed chipmunk peering out of a fenderwell opening to see who the big dumb intruder was. The nest was made entirely from dark insulation, which prompted me to wonder what this insulation had been stripped out of. It wasn’t from the tire covers. It wasn’t the camper’s fiberglass. My guess was that they were stripping the Ford out.

How long before they started idly chewing through wiring insulation, potentially disabling it? I’d once returned from a week-long vacation to find that my ’58 GMC pickup wouldn’t start, the result of a woodchuck eating away all the insulation around the ignition wires. Never again, I had grimly determined, never again. Now, here was the Ford, a virtual electronic minefield.

As Bugs Bunny liked to say before his cartoons were deemed too violent for children and taken off the air, “Of course you realize, this means war!” I went back into the trailer to figure out how to best protect the Ford. In the meantime, the chipmunks joyfully frolicked outside, and one even took to seeing how far he could climb up the screen door. Three times. Whenever I would go outside they would scamper away and leave me in peace for a half-hour. Then they’d return as boldly as before.

I decided as a result that two approaches would be required to defend the Defiant’s Power Module from further attack. First, one ultrasonic speaker would be deployed under the hood, powered by the Ford’s batteries via a 50-watt inverter that I have. A 7.5-watt solar panel I have was added to keep the constant power drain from affecting them. Should that fail, a baited snap trap was placed on each battery. That was Phase One.

I reluctantly determined that a Phase Two would be necessary as well. I was often seeing 4 or 5 chipmunks at a time, and that was just around the Ford only. I had to aggressively scale down their sense of ownership of my campsite, and end their perception that the area was fair game. They needed to perceive a threat. I managed to set aside my mental legacy of the Disney Syndrome, where all small creatures talk to each other in their matching little hats and vests, and break out my ancient Crosman Model 130 air-pump .22 pistol.

It was a pitched battle from the start as I confined my shots toward the front end of the Mighty Furd, some 30 feet away from the trailer door. If it’s any consolation, I missed far, far more than I hit. The end result at this point has been no apparent further intrusion into the Ford’s engine bay, and only occasional area visits by one chipmunk at a time. The party is apparently over, the danger has been perceived, and target practice is at most once a day now. The scattering gravel at least lets them know that the area is still risky to be in. Lest you think this is an inordinately cruel solution, note that I also unhappily discovered that these chipmunks are eagerly cannibalistic, and the small, limping badger in the area carries away what’s left when I’m away from camp. Not the happiest post I’ve ever written, but it’s real. Now and then, in between the magnificent vistas and the interesting people, you get this. A sweaty, death-dealing desperado!

When Your Eyes Are Bigger Than Your Bike Trailer

The Pack Mule still looks wonky, but at least is more at home in the outlands.

The Pack Mule still looks wonky, but at least is more at home in the outlands.

I did a grocery run into town yesterday, a trip taking an hour each way, not including the dawdling and looping around in the store to locate things. I found everything I needed though, and then some. Meat, produce, fruits, eggs, etc. Of course, I needed to replenish my supply of Carlo Rossi’s Paisano Fine Table Wine. I’m not sure what vintage it is, since it’s $13 for a glass 4-liter jug of the stuff. Red wine. Good for the heart, you know, unless of course you drink all of it in just a few sittings. I even found some sunscreen rated at 100, just the thing for if one of the scheduled Bonneville Speedway events isn’t rained out. Unfortunately, they had a sale on Coca-Cola. If you bought six 1-liter bottles, the price dropped to $1 a bottle. I was helpless to resist.

In the store, I quickly stumbled into three people wearing “Venturi Buckeye Bullet” T-shirts, who have their racing vehicle parked in one of the hangers of the defunct WWII airport at the fringes of downtown Wendover. They said they were waiting out the weather for a bit to see if an FIA-certified land speed record attempt could/would be made. What’s notable is that their narrow four-wheeler is entirely electric, and in a previous incarnation has topped 320 MPH in the past. They sounded like they were sitting on an updated design, and had their hearts set on 400 MPH. These guys (and gal) are obviously packing some serious watts. Personally, I am very optimistic for electric-powered vehicles in this setting, since short bursts of extreme power levels is their forte, much more so than long-distance runs. By the way, they mentioned the special race events for electric motorcycles at the Isle of Mann, so they apparently get around. This is an interesting place, come August!

Once I was back out in the hard reality of the parking lot with my e-bike and trailer, it became apparent that Read more…

Refitting for Battle

Am I not merciful?

Am I not merciful?

Sometimes, life is simplified down to its basic components. In order for one thing to live, something else must die. Sometimes, in order for one thing to be able to sleep, something else must die. I’m the one thing. Mice are the something else. That’s the way I prefer it, anyway.

Rodent infestations aren’t talked about much on RVing blogs, because it’s mundane and reduces the glamour of the lifestyle. Seldom do you read, “We saw the magnificent Grand Canyon today! But we were all so tired from a couple of sleepless nights from all the mice in the trailer that we were too tired to really enjoy it. Merla’s concerned we’re going to catch that Hantavirus if we can’t get rid of them.”

Once inside, mice are quite noisy at night, and basically treat the Defiant as their playground as they search for stray food remnants. Plus, they poop and pee all over creation. Chewing on everything, running along or inside metal enclosures or ductwork, or just doing sprints up and down the kitchen linoleum, they easily wake me even from a sound sleep. Then I wonder, “What are they destroying now?” In the ancient days, when I was Read more…

A Farwell to Arms?

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Ever notice something minor that just seems to bother you out of all proportion to its physical significance? I bought a DVD at a local second-hand shop, a two-disc pack with three early Gary Cooper movies and a promotional short. Gary Cooper was a popular Academy Award-winning actor with a unique “everyman” style, and who eventually hit a few out of the park, like the classic High Noon. This set included A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway’s depressive look at love in the midst of the opposing traits of mankind. Except for the breakthrough cinematography, it’s a workman-like effort that deserves some respect – especially for Gary Cooper, who’s the reason for the DVD’s issuance by Genius Entertainment, a division of Genius Products.

Now, a lot of DVDs have misspellings on the electronic disc identification, something only the device will see so it hardly matters. This is the first time I’ve seen a DVD menu muffed with a “don’t care” attitude. It’s not so much the slept-through-that-class miscreant who screwed it up, as the lack of any second set of eyeballs to make sure the DVD was good to go before it went into production. Not a soul in the Genius hierarchy nor AMC bothered to expose it to anyone above a party-animal intern or minimum wage go-fer once the lowest-price graphics house puked up their sloppy work. This tends to kick me right into the standard “and this is what’s wrong in this country today” tirade in regard to business practices, but you get the picture, so to speak. For some outfits, the most effective way to promote themselves is to emphasize cost, and not let anyone see their past work.

Look Twice As Good in Half the Time

Sometimes, the little things can mean so much.

Sometimes, the little things can mean so much.

Decades ago on the Saturday Night Live TV show, Billy Crystal did an ongoing characterization smacking of actor Fernando Llamas, complete with faint Hispanic accent. This character always seemed to live in cocktail lounge booths and dark steakhouses, wore sunglasses and neck scarf under a dress jacket, and presented an “appearances first” aura. Dispensing self-absorbed advice, one of his oft-heard phrases was, “It is better to look good than to feel good – you know what I am saying to you?”

Having come from an era where a suit and tie was de rigueur (“prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom”) among career professionals, I won’t debate that care in appearance makes a big impact on perception by others. And, that need not be based on added accoutrements or bling. I remember once wandering into a drawing file room with another engineer to find an engineering intern slumped over a drawing file, asleep. He was a likable young guy who enjoyed late partying, and I was glad no manager had discovered him. He awoke in a fatigued but good-natured way, and while we spontaneously reviewed his previous entertainment choices, what instantly stood out to me like a spotlight on a stage was Read more…

Adventures in RVing!

The mighty Defiant in Marengo, Illinois last summer.

The mighty Defiant in Marengo, Illinois last summer.

This isn’t about my adventure. It’s about Dave’s Adventure. See, Dave is this guy in a mid-sized older motorhome, a real nice guy just out to see what RVing is all about, same as me. He was parked directly in back of my TT, and the photo above doesn’t show that because it was taken just before he arrived. Otherwise, it’d be in the photo because it was no more than ten feet away. There were a few trees and a powerline close by, too. I left Sept 3rd to head for the Bonneville Salt Flats, and he stayed behind for awhile.

Before you ask “so what”, I’ll tell you. Sometimes, what doesn’t happen to you is as important as what does happen. I got the “doesn’t”, he got the “does”. I’ll let Dave tell you:

“…Looks like you have had your trials and tribulations but have succeeded in your quest so far.  As for me, since you left I have had my own trials and tribulations.
First off, shortly after you left I took a direct lightning strike Read more…

Post Navigation