Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sew n' Sew

BJ managed to make this table runner without me looking over her shoulder with a camera.

I like the spring colors and the bunnies seem to confirm the theme.

Now she's working on another project. This one has lots of little pieces.

And for the first time, she's created a bunch of patterns on paper.

She then started sewing fabric to the paper leaving me scratching my head. Maybe I should just go back out to the garage

and finish checking and packing the wheel bearings on the trailer. If all goes well, we should be on the road in about three weeks.

Now I understand the paper! All the pieces are coming out the same

and it looks like they'll fit together the way it was intended.

One's not enough - the pattern calls for three stars.

She's down to the quilting, but still has a ways to go.

Meanwhile, Turk is doing what Turk does best.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quick Visit to Miami

BJ and I headed to the hills twice last week, visiting Top of the World, Miami, Claypool, and Globe. The first time was because I discovered there were a couple geocaches that had been placed about six weeks ago and still didn't have a first to find.

We did find a number of caches, but decided that we really didn't need to break a leg trying to navigate a quarter mile of boulder hopping. Not sure about wiser, but definitely older.

The old highway route was MUCH better than I remembered it. We'd traveled a bit of it about 15 years ago that I recall being very marginal. This time it was in wonderful shape.

With a bit more elevation, the plants were different and some flowers were still blooming but I didn't get pictures of them.

We went back to Globe a couple days later, specifically to crawl around under a building.

There were some cobwebs

but all in all it was much cleaner than I expected AND much drier. I'd imagined muddy floors, but that wasn't what we found.

There were three of us looking for the cache (which we found), while one of the crew decided that someone had to provide logistical support, getting additional tools from the truck, etc.

After finishing with that cache, we visited a few others around town before meeting with local cachers at one of the local Mexican restaurants for dinner. Lots of fun!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Urban Camping with a Twist

One of the things I've had on my mental list is camping at the race track. Years ago, my daughter and I actively watched NHRA drag races when they were in town, but their ticket prices have risen faster than the cost of medical care. It finally got to the point that I wasn't willing to spend the dollars to enjoy feeling the earth shake and smelling nitromethane fumes.

Kelli sent me a note about a race coming to the raceway formerly known as Firebird. The price was right AND there was camping available at an extremely affordable price during the two day event.

I pulled in and parked in what would normally be the fuel dragster pit area, overlooking the lake used for hydroplane racing. The trailer in the background was setting up his pair of Honda generators so I gave him plenty of space.

The event was a first for me. Diesel pulling and drag racing put on by the National Hot Rod Diesel Association. On Friday evening I was a bit worried because the pit area for the pulling event was pretty sparse.

There were quite a few pickups, primarily Cummins powered. There were a couple diesel tractors and a couple four-engined alcohol powered pulling machines.

Some of the trucks were running nitrous in addition to their oversized diesel injectors. Several of the trucks were pulling in more than one class.

There was one pickup in the event that looked suspiciously like it was set up to pull a fifth wheel on a regular basis. That truck actually broke his hitch trying to pull the sled.

The most interesting thing was the sled. It was custom built using the engine and drive axle from a diesel pusher motor home. When the trucks or tractors were pulling, the drive axle was off the ground. At the end of the pull, front wheels would hydraulically unfold from the sled, raising the front end of the sled and putting the rear drive axle on the ground so the sled to back into position for the next pull. Always wondered where motorhomes went to die.

After the pulling event I headed back to my trailer to discover that I have a cabin cruiser, and an older class A rig on one side and a pair of large fifth wheels on the other, complete with surround sound generators. It really didn't matter since the freeway was directly on the other side of the lake. Quiet would not be one of the terms used to describe this boondocking location!

Saturday was dedicated to drag races. Wandering through the pits, it was interesting to see the variety of rigs. Everything from Model A running a Cummins with dual turbos and 4 wheel drive to old semi's set up for drag racing. For some reason, the Ford Mustang sporting a Cummins engine did not compete.

There was even a class for road-worthy semis. They tended to top out at about 80 mph in the quarter mile with lots of wasted time shifting...

Checked another thing off the list - camping at a race. I don't plan to submit this location to Campendium!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Years ago, we switched to a pair of 6 volt golf cart batteries instead of the smaller stock 12 volt battery for the low voltage system in the trailer. That decision was right for us and the way we use our rig. The down side was that it left room for only one LP tank. With just one tank, keeping track of the amount of gas remaining was important, especially when wandering miles from easy service.

Originally, I replaced the remaining 20 pound tank with a 25 pound fiberglass tank. The fiberglass tank was translucent, allowing you to see the level of liquid gas in the tank. When that tank was recalled, I replaced it with a standard steel 30 lb tank which was approximately the same size as the 25 pound fiberglass tank.

Tanks with float gauges exist, but are very hard (impossible??) to find in a 30 pound version.

The end result is that I've been looking for an accurate way to easily know the level of LP gas in our Scamp's 30 pound tank for years. Pressure gauges don't work but a lot are sold. The old boiling water trick or the boiling water tape are a hassle, especially when the tank is hidden behind a shroud. I've been using a luggage scale, but that means undressing and de-mounting the tank.

A couple years ago some ultrasonic, handheld devices were released but got very mixed reviews. This year I spotted the mention of the TankCheck sensor in a Camping World catalog. Turns out it's available from a variety of sources including Amazon, if they can keep it in stock!

The basic sensor is about 2 x 3 inches and about 3/8 inch thick. The face side has a label and a flush reset switch that is only used when pairing the sensor to a bluetooth device.

The back side of the device has a rubbery sensor pad and a couple rare earth magnets.

Installation is simple! Clean the bottom of the LP tank and then place the sensor in center of the tank bottom. In most cases, the provided rubber feet are added to the tank base is provide some extra clearance, but since my tank mount is totally different, I didn't bother with the rubber feet on the tank.

A free application is available for Android or iPhone. If you don't want to mess with a phone app, a small Double Monitor is available to mount in the RV.

The app correctly reads out in percentage remaining, assuming you remembered to tell it what size tank you are using. The Double Monitor reads out in quarters.

I've had it in place for a month or so now. I don't know how long the battery in the sensor will last, but I LOVE knowing how much gas I have left with no more effort than looking at an app.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

BJ Thanks Him

I figured out that one of the features of the new truck was lacking. We always haul a couple jerry cans of additional water when we're boondocking for any length of time, but the tie-down rings in the truck bed are too low to retain the jerry cans on rough roads.

There are some interesting holes punched in the upper bed corners that I thought might be used for optional tie-down accessories, but a search with the parts expert at the dealer showed nothing existed for upper tie-downs.
I did some internet research and ended up ordering an Anchor Point Tie Down kit from US Cargo Control. The package arrived quickly, but then languished leaning up against a cabinet in the garage - right in the way. With a friend coming to use the garage for a few hours I decided it was time to get that package out of the way and get the parts installed.

I picked up some stainless flat-head machine screws and nyloc nuts from the local Ace Hardware. Actually, I ended up visiting all three local Ace Hardware stores to collect enough to do the job.

I drilled pilot holes and then the 1/4 inch holes for the machine screws. In a couple places, the holes lined up with the plastic nubs that helped retain the plastic bed rail protectors. I discovered the plastic was soft enough that I could grab the nubs with a pair of plies and twist them off, leaving me the clearance I needed for the hardware.

The tie-downs fit at any point along the track. Since they are easily installed and removed, I've elected to keep them in the glovebox when they're not in use so that someone else doesn't elect to remove them.

I got the project done about an hour before KB showed up to tackle a front brake job on his truck. He needed a couple special tools and a place to work, and I needed a bit of a push to get that package out of the way. BJ thanks him!!

Bob was the first Scamper I met after we got our Scamp, and has always been a fount of knowledge and well considered ideas. It was sure nice to help him out for once.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

North of 1000

Long time readers of this blog know that my grandson introduced me to geocaching during the summer of 2015. By August of that year, I started placing a few geocaches.

I quickly figured out that I really enjoyed putting out caches that were not typical. Most were made of items found while wandering in the desert or items that I re-purposed. What came as an unexpected delight was that folks found them interesting enough that they would award 'favorite points' to some of my caches.

Over time, I started building caches specifically because I thought they might put a smile on the finder's face. The vast majority of them aren't so tough to locate, but can be challenging to access the logbook.

While I was in Yuma last month, I surpassed a milestone that I'd never dreamed possible. My caches surpassed 1000 total favorite points.

I know I'm crazy investing as much time and effort as I do in the caches I place, but I'm finding it rewarding. The points count will slow down significantly in the next few weeks as the temps send our winter visitors (and me) packing. Meanwhile, the list of ideas keeps growing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Mobley Success

The Mobley device that I ordered last week showed up less than 48 hours after I ordered it online, complete with a phone number to call to activate it. I called the number and was bounced from one person to a second one who informed me that the sim card in the device was defective and that I'd need to take the Mobley to an AT&T store (store number two from the previous post) to get the sim changed. I was fortunate enough to get the same fellow that had been able to find information on my desired plan when I was there before. He quickly had a new sim in the device and had it fired up. Added the Connected Car Unlimited Data Plan (standalone) to my account and I was out the door within 15 minutes.

Yes, it was a bunch of hoop jumping, but yes, I'm very pleased with the Mobley. Good (not great - it's a generation behind) performance and another data source to spread out our load.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

That was Fun - Not!!!

I started out the day with a relatively short list of things to get done and crossed most of them off within an hour. It all went sideways on the last item.

I arrived at the nearest corporate AT&T store two minutes after they opened in search of a ZTE Mobley. The Mobley is designed to plug into the computer port in a car or truck and creates a WiFi hotspot for up to five devices. The whole concept has never interested me until this past week when AT&T introduced an unlimited* data plan for the Mobley at $20 per month. Since I retired, our connectivity has been based on a 20 gig Verizon plan and a 5 gig AT&T plan. That's been enough although some months it gets pretty snug, especially if the phones do a lot of software updates.

Anywho, it seemed simple - just get a Mobley with the appropriate plan. I'd tried to order via their website but the new plan didn't show as an option.

I already had the exact name of the plan so I figured it would be easy to do face to face. At store one, they didn't have a Mobley and in fact I had to brief them on their product. They did look up the plan and said I had to call Customer Service. I went over and sat down in the corner of the store and called Customer Service and waited the requisite ten minutes before talking to someone who also didn't know their products but eventually said he could give me a direct number for the Connected Car department but he couldn't transfer me.

The call to the "direct line" also resulted in wait time before being informed that the number connected to the "On Star" department. Since the truck has a ram symbol on the hood, GM's On Star wasn't going to do me any good.

At that point I drove to AT&T corporate store number two. They too couldn't  do anything with or about the Mobley but they did look up the plan and gave me the corporate product code for the new plan that I wanted. With that info in hand it was back to the computer where I started an order for the Mobley AND a chat session to try to get it sorted out.

The first chat agent tried to get me to buy a different plan that would have cost seven times as much, in spite of having provided her with the corporate SKU code for the plan I wanted. She transferred me to another agent who never showed up. One hour of chat time down, one reading comprehension challenged agent and one non-existent agent later I cancelled the session and started over.

The second session started with a very helpful person who said I would need to order the device and the limited data option that they offer on line and then she would transfer me to a different department to get the wrong plan switched. One hour into the second session I started putting current time notes in the conversation since I'd learned that the transcript didn't include times. Seventy five minutes after the fifth agent said it would be just a couple minutes, I have a Mobley on order without ANY data plan. When the hardware shows up I'll start jumping through hoops again.

I continue to be amazed that outfits can stay in business providing that sort of service, but maybe the four hours and 50 minutes invested so far will be worth it - we'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Over the Hill

I had a list of stuff that I needed to get done today but decided to head out over the hill for a couple geocaches before the forecast / threatened / promised (choose one) rain arrives. Had some clouds off to the northwest, but there was some sunlight shining on Fountain Hills in the distance.

This area is part of the Tonto National Forest. There's a shooting range south of here, but apparently some folks can't resist using a sign for "target" practice.

The sun was just coming up, leaving long shadows. Red Mountain was just poking up on the western horizon.

Part of the time I was following game trails, part of the time I was following a section of the Maricopa trail or other bike trails. Lots of trails but I had the place to myself.

I always love watching the light change on Red Mountain in the morning. With all the clouds, it wasn't as spectacular as it sometimes is, but it's still special.

Managed to find the two geocaches I was looking for before heading off to take care of business.

Because I'm officially over the hill now (at least one of them) I had the privilege of spending five hours today doing all the paperwork for a new drivers license. The place was nearly empty when I started this morning, but that was because their computer system was down. Two hours later the place was full.

At least I wasn't in the line that wrapped around the Justice Court building. Apparently everyone else in town had traffic fines to pay.