Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks

My ongoing scanning project has been very introspective, bringing back memories of a wonderful childhood.

IMGA (246)IMGA (3524)
I’m thankful for my parents, one born on a farm, and the other a “city” (albeit very small cities) girl.
IMGF (1935)
They worked and played together, raising a family of four who seemed totally unable to all smile and look in the same direction at the same time.

IMGA (5711) Easter '60 est

I'm thankful for my siblings who’ve added so much to my life -

IMGF (2295)IMGF (2649)IMGF (3255) Steve 1st Day School '62

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I'm thankful that I grew up on a farm where I learned responsibility and discovered that it's really hard to water the calves in the winter if you didn't bother to drain the hose the night before!

IMGF (1589)IMGF (1467)I'm thankful for parents who made time to take us camping and hiking like this trip to the Morvitz "ranch" south of Mount Baker,

IMGF (4820) Mt Baker John David Steve Milton Sum '69IMGF (4763) Easter '70 Mt. Baker Jack DeGode John Mike Price
that Dad made time to take us on a more significant hike during his busy season, and that they trusted me to join several high school friends on a springtime hike to a fire lookout near Mt. Baker.

IMGA (5667) BJ & John Jan'72I’m especially thankful for my beautiful wife who puts up with me and has for over 40 years. Together we have two wonderful children

IMGF (5656) Christmas '74IMGF (946)who sometime play nice together

Spencer2and a grandson who ends up in the penalty box once in awhile.

I'm thankful, too, for all my friends who are feeling lucky they weren't included in this post!

I’ve been so blessed!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

All Quiet - For Now

It's quiet around the house today. BJ is out at our daughter's bridal shower. I finished another box of the ongoing scanning project this morning but my eyes are begging for a break. The Scamp is fussing about being parked in the garage instead of being out camping, but the calendar is starting to feel some pressure.

While most Americans are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, we're waiting until next Sunday for our celebration. The Alaska family is scheduled to arrive on Friday, we'll celebrate Thanksgiving on Sunday, and the daughter gets married the following Wednesday, so the excitement is starting to build.

Meanwhile, the turkey is in the freezer, the trash can, aluminum foil, and charcoal are ready and waiting. Next Sunday we'll be doing a trash can turkey for the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving meal.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Much is Too Much?

Fair warning: this post isn’t going to format neatly on small screens such as smart phones.

It continues to amaze me the number of people who have no idea what their trailer actually weighs. Recently I saw an individual post a number that had to be less than 50% of the real world trailer weight, but many people aren't sure how to go about getting an accurate weight or actually believe fictious published weights. I had an acquaintance ask me to describe my process for determining the weight and balance of a trailer. While the graphic depicts a small "fifth wheel" style trailer, the same process works for bumper pull trailers as well.

Scamp pencil

Truck scales are commonly available at truck stops, gravel companies, city dumps, or other places that deal in truck load lots. Some states leave some of their highway scales enabled when the enforcement function is closed - Oregon is one example. A scale that is long enough for all axles at same time will be used for our example. You'll want to talk to the scale operator about your needs since you'll need to record multiple weights during each of two passes across the scales.

Start by loading the tow vehicle and trailer as normal for a trip, i.e. full fuel, water if boondocking, food, clothing, folding chairs, etc.

Drive the front axle of the tow vehicle onto the scale and record the weight as



Drive onto the scale until both tow vehicle axles are on the scale and record as



Drive onto the scale until all axles are on the scale and record as




Park and detach the trailer and then return the tow vehicle to the scale for two more weights:

Drive the front axle of the tow vehicle onto the scale and record the weight as



Drive onto the scale until both tow vehicle axles are on the scale and record as



    Now for the basic arithmetic – just substitute your actual numbers and calculate accordingly:

    (A+B+C) minus (A+B) = C (also known as trailer Total Axle

    (A+B) minus (Awo+Bwo) = Tongue Weight ___________
    Total Axle Weight + Tongue Weight = Actual Trailer Weight ___________

    It looks complex but it’s actually quite simple. This will work for single axle trailers or for multi axle trailers IF you (1) don’t want to know the individual axle weights or (2) are willing to assume the axle load is spread evenly between the axles in which case you’ll divide the trailer total axle weight by the number of axles to get the average weight per axle.

    Most sources recommend the tongue weight should be 10-15% of the actual trailer weight for standard trailers and 18-25% percent for fifth wheel style trailers.

    On shorter scales such as state DOT scales, it may be necessary to weigh each axle individually. It will make it somewhat easier since you won't have to calculate the "C" number - just read it directly from the scale IF the tow vehicle axles are off the scale.

    Saturday, November 16, 2013

    Looking for a River

    With the canoe loaded and gear packed, I left the house late morning on Thursday in search of paddling friends and a river. I found the first paddling friend at the college. Waited awhile while she finished helping a new hire and I touched base with a few friends that wandered through the area while I was there.

    About sundown we found the next paddling friend as we pulled into the Hacienda Hotel & Casino's parking lot east of Boulder City, Nevada. I've likely paddled more days with Helen than anyone other than my wife. She's the owner of Desert River Kayak and one of the few businesses that has authority to launch boats just below Hoover Dam. (We did wave to Al & Kelly of the Bayfield Bunch as we passed just west of Congress, but I don't think they saw us!)

    Friday morning found us below the dam for the 7 a.m. launch,

    almost directly below the bridge.

    We were fortunate to have Helen join us on the river. Normally she's driving the shuttle for her customers. In addition, we were joined by a family friend / matchmaker / blogger / mother of five kids and her friend for their first trip through the Black Canyon.

    We stopped at the sauna cave where the view from the inside

    was as steamy as Kathy's glasses.

    We stopped at Goldstrike Canyon where we found hanging gardens growing around warm seeps.

    From Goldstrike the bridge is still partially visible.

    We stopped at Boy Scout Canyon before continuing on to Arizona Hot Springs. Up the ladder (complete with a cell phone photographer going for the angle)

    to the first meaningful pool. There's one dammed up before the ladder but it's too cool to be worthwhile. There's another pool above this one that is very hot.

    After a soak and lunch, we were back on the headwaters of Lake Mohave, enjoying the views of the canyon as we continued downstream to the Willow Beach Marina.

    It was pretty clear that Beth and Leslie enjoyed the day as well, even if Beth is going for the "who me?" pose.

    A great day on the Colorado river with wonderful weather, light breezes, and good friends. Well worth the drive!

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Hatched Again

    Over a year ago, I installed a hatch for access to the curbside dinette bench. We decided this summer that we should install a matching hatch on for the streetside dinette bench as well.

    This one also required some equipment moves. In this case, the city water connection needed to move forward to give enough clearance for the hatch between the city water connection and the power cord connection.

    As I did last time, I used a laminate trimming router with a straight bit to cut through the fiberglass and just into the insulation. This approach results in a very clean cut without any chipping of the gel coat.

    With the fiberglas out of the way, it was simple to cut the insulation with a box cutter and the rat fur with scissors.

    Once the big hole was open, I was able to install the modified plumbing for the city water connection. Just added a couple PEX elbows so that I could continue to use the original tee.

    The frame for the hatch was seated with 3M5200 sealant and attached with 3/4" long stainless steel pan-head screws, flat washers, and nuts.

    I made a guard structure to go around the circuit breaker panel and the wall mounted converter to keep other stuff from creating problems with the electrical wiring while allowing good air flow.

    With the hatch installation finished, we now have an easy spot to store the trailer's lego blocks, chocks, hoses, connectors, etc.

    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    From Boondock to Urban

    Turk and I stopped by to see Al, Kelly, and Pheebe of The Bayfield Bunch on our way out of Congress and ended up chatting for quite a while about ways to resolve the often marginal cell data service in the area. They did a great job of fixing up the place last winter and are looking forward to some boondocking this winter.

    I was hoping to find a parking spot in Phoenix near the State Capital for Food Truck Friday. Our daughter had heard about a truck doing satay and gado-gado. Gado-gado is an Indonesian salad that I fell in love with during our years in Indonesia and I'm always on the hunt for some.

    I found a parking spot (in the shade, no less) about three blocks away and joined the line at the Satay Hut truck. Too bad they tend to be found in downtown Phoenix or Scottsdale, but it worked to swing by on my drive home from a few wonderful days in the desert.

    The food looked good and tasted great! The gado-gado dressing was wonderful although using lettuce in the gado-gado was an unexpected shortcut.

    With lunch out of the way, the trailer was serviced and is now tucked back in it's stall, waiting for the next chance to find a quiet spot in the desert.

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    A Visit to Yarnell

    Yarnell is a town we've really enjoyed for many years. In the past, we talked about the idea of buying a house in the delightful community just up the hill from Congress. While we were in Alaska this summer, Yarnell was in the news when 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew died in the Yarnell Hill fire. While I was boondocking in the Ghost Town Road BLM area, I took time to visit again.

    There is a large display next door to the restaurant at the top of the hill set up to honor the members of the Hotshot crew.

    There are two large panels for the pictures and very moving bios of the team, and a third panel with information about the formation of the team.

    Just across the road, at first glance things look pretty much the same as always, with tress growing among the very large boulders, but if you look closer at the picture

    you'll see the remains of a burned out home on the left side of the picture

    and some burned out cars on the right side of that same picture.

    It's like driving across a checkerboard with a foundation remaining here and an apparently unharmed home next door, with little to show why some survived while neighboring property didn't. Construction is now underway and Yarnell will rebuild better, stronger!

    Please remember the families of the crew members.

    Thursday, November 7, 2013

    Ghost Town?

    Some ghost towns have old buildings that look like people just walked away. Other ghost towns don't leave as many obvious signs. The original site of Congress is now nearly gone. I spotted these footings.

    Never realized what good targets old re-bar apparently makes.

    On the north edge of this BLM area is an old mine that is still being worked.

    Perhaps the most interesting thing that remains is the Pioneer Cemetery which dates back to the late 1800s. This cemetery is located about 1000 feet north-northeast from the much larger, newer, and still used Congress cemetery.

    Many of the graves here are now just marked with a ring of stones, with the original wooden markers long gone,

    but even those may mean something to someone.

    Others have more permanent markers that tell poignant stories.

    For me the tale was best told by the formerly fancy wooden fence around a now unmarked grave. Someone was valued but their resting place is now forgotten.

    The walk wore out Turk

    so he didn't pay any attention to the beautiful sunset last night or the clear dark sky full of stars