Sunday, August 2, 2020

More Silver Subie mods

After the June trip, I had a couple more mods that I wanted to add to the Silver Subie outfitting. It needed more ventilation, shade, and a spot to sit while logging geocaches or doing research for upcoming trip waypoints. A shelf assembly could help while reducing the amount of slope on the bed.

While I was making stuff in the shop, I fabricated some magnetic strips. My first attempt with screens for the windows had used flexible magnet strips but they didn't work well at all. This time I made them from 1/4" plywood with rare earth magnets epoxied in place and covered with a layer of fiberglass.

The shelf assembly was designed so that it could stay in place even when the back seat is up in the "normal" (at least for most people) position. It still has 10 inches remaining when you get to the black stripe. It works well to hold the computer and I can sit in a folding chair without banging my knees against the always dirty bumper.

The next trick was some shade. I consulted with the smart one in the family about building a shade / netting structure for the back of the Subie but by the time we were done penciling it out, the material, zippers, and other accoutrements were approaching the cost of a ready-built option.

It's MUCH bigger (8x8 would be a better match) than I would prefer and the height makes it a bit challenging to put the rainfly on by myself, but it does provide much improved ventilation. It also vastly improves the glare on the computer screen. A side benefit is that it can stay in place to reserve the spot if I'm basing from one location for more than one day.

There's one more significant addition in progress, but I just discovered a couple torn CV boots that put the additions on hold while the Subie get a pair of spanking new axles.

Meanwhile, I finally got permission to place the last of a set of five field puzzle caches that I built a couple months ago. Not to worry, there's a newer one in the shop that's also waiting for property owner permission.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

More Challenging

Temps in the Phoenix area have been their typical summer 110+ which meant it was time to look for more elevation. I spotted a set of six challenge caches just west of Flagstaff that looked interesting, and with elevations above 8000 feet, the weather should be somewhat cooler. I was part way done with the latest set of mods for the Subie, so it seemed a three day trip was in order.

I drove as far as the signage would let me and then started up the hill. The first portion of the trail was clearly a road, but also clearly signed such that motor vehicles weren't allowed. There had been a fire through here years ago, but the forest of pine trees was developing nicely.

There were five challenges that surrounded the rim of an old volcano, with a sixth one down in the crater.

These caches varied in age from 7 to 10 years old, but don't get much traffic.

I started with the 5th of the series and then worked clockwise around the rim while keeping an eye on the dark clouds gathering over Humphreys Peak. Between the second and third cache that I did, it opened up to good views of the lake / mudhole in the crater.

The elevation was high enough that there were still some spring flowers in the shadows.

By the time I'd finished the five caches on the rim, I was debating about the last cache in the crater, but the low point in the rim was in line with where I'd parked the Subie and the last cache didn't get visited much with only 24 finds in 10 years.

As usual, online maps aren't current. It sure looks like a road to the bottom of the crater, but the nearest legal parking is just about where that road exits the lower edge of the picture.

By the time I was getting close to the car, the black clouds over Humphreys had moved and it was starting to rain, hard!

It wasn't long and the chuck holes had turned to mud puddles and water was running down the ruts in the road. I departed the forest and headed to Williams for my boondock location. Even though I was still over 6000 feet that evening, it was toasty warm after the rain quit.

The next morning, early, I headed to Kingman for the final qualifier for another challenge cache. Kingman is way too low for a summer overnight so after the event I turned around and headed to Prescott where there are a bunch of new challenges. I didn't get them all, but I did get one for my 7,000th find (excluding lab caches.) Camp that night on Mingus Mountain put me over 8,000 feet.

Time to head home - more projects for the Subie.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

How Challenging Was It??

Seventeen days / sixteen nights & 5,200 miles later, I think we've given the Silver Subie a pretty good test. It has its limitations, but some of those are likely to keep me out of trouble. All in all, it was a very successfully trip!

I decided to do the trip in a clockwise direction to give as much time as possible for snow melt in the Rockies. Much of the trip was high country, intentionally, to keep temperatures reasonable. I crossed the Sierra twice and flirted with it one other time. I lost count of the number of times I crossed the continental divide.

Day one was primarily a positioning day. Day two was a bit emotional as I spent time at what remains of Manzanar, one of the camps where we interned citizens who were the wrong color. This happened to be the same day the President was using military to move protesters so that he could do a photo-op in front of a church.

While BJ and I have driven Highway 395 and California 49 with the Scamp, it was much nicer driving these narrow (sometimes VERY narrow) and curvy roads in the car. It was much easier to find places to pull off and enjoy the views.

Very nearly all of the National Forest and National Park campgrounds in California were closed as they were in some other areas. Those that were open seemed to be open only if you held a reservation. It just helped confirm my intention to social distancing by boondocking.

My eye is always drawn to abandoned structures, especially those that reflect some quality construction. This one was in Harney County, Oregon, not far from the one and only geocache I've found in Harney County. With the exception of the broken windows, this place looks like it could be livable. The barn was built of stone as well.

I wasn't surprised to see visitor centers and other businesses closed. I was a bit surprised at the number of caches that weren't available because they were inside businesses or visitor centers without noting any access limitations in the cache description.

By the time I got to the high country of Colorado, most of the snow was gone. There was a big bank of snow on a side road  just a few hundred feet from the top of Rabbit's Ear Pass so I got to do a bit of hiking to pick up the first cache in one of the counties.

Choices, choices. 

I lost count how many times the Subie and I crossed the Continental Divide. At least twice on this day approaching Leadville. Leadville was a disappointment but the South Park region of Colorado was amazing! High elevation, rolling hills, open grassy meadows, etc. I want to return and spend more time there!

As is so often the case, the highlights weren't anticipated. One of the highlights for me was a cache that I'd selected because it sounds like it had a good view. Turns out, it overlooks the Arkansas River as it enters the Royal Gorge. The cache had not been found for over three years. Rust, history, railroad, whitewater, lonely cache. What more could you want?

Before the trip, I'd checked online and it looked like none of the pie places in Pie Town were open, but when I came through mid-afternoon on my last full day, the Gathering Place was open. They didn't have the New Mexico Apple that I was dreaming about, but...

A blueberry / peach pie had just come out of the oven. I made a place for it in my kitchen drawer and let it cool down while I put some more miles behind us. I could honestly say it didn't keep well, but I don't think I'll clarify that statement.


All told, I added 56 counties to the map and completed the Utah's Nearest Neighbor Challenge (GC2375Q) that had been the primary impetus for the trip. This challenge has only been claimed 14 times since it was published over 10 years ago. I also got the last two altitude bands I needed to complete Altitude Belt Challenge (GC56F47). It would only be honest to admit that I signed the log for the Absolutely No Life Challenge (GC56GY8) but I'd qualified for it before I left on the trip.

I've got a couple more projects to do on the car before I do another major boondocking trip with it. It needs a sliding shelf under the foot of the bed and I need to create a windscreen / shade for the open hatch area. The kitchen setup worked well EXCEPT that it needs an effective windscreen (or trips that aren't as windy as this one was.) More power and a low range gearbox would be nice but those are the things that likely keep me out of trouble!