Saturday, April 3, 2021

Better Late Than Never (or not??)

Last August
, I teased that there was one more significant Silver Subie mod, but I never got around to documenting it. Since then, I did a full engine overhaul, new clutch, new brakes, new radiator, etc.

I wasn't happy with depending on the car battery for overnight use, but I couldn't justify a dedicated "house" battery, or so I thought. Shortly after getting home from the weekend trip with the tent addition, I was "blessed" with a CPAP. Now I had an excuse! The CPAP provider was less than helpful about running it on batteries, so I reinvented the wheel, so to speak.

If it were just current uses for the Subie, I could have gone with a smaller battery, but I needed it to have enough capacity to support our annual river trip as well. My design criteria was to have enough capacity for the CPAP for 10 nights or to comfortably handle the computer and 12 volt fridge (one can dream, right?) in the Subie. 

I ended up selecting an LiFePo4 50 Ah battery from They import this battery for "house" battery applications in VW Vans. The physical size and weight were excellent, and the price was better than I would have expected.

I lose some space in the kitchen box, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience! 

The battery is charged from a Renogy 20Amp DC-DC Battery Charger. This provides the charge curve that the LiFePo4 battery needs. This charger lives under the driver's seat.

The charger can be turned on/off from a switch that fits into a blank spot on the console. Since I only use the battery on overnight trips, the charger is turned off for everyday use of the Subie.

With the car installation finished, I built a water (and sand) resistant box to house the battery and control panel.

It's one more thing that gets loaded in the canoe, but the system worked well and lets us do those extended float trips that we love. It's been a win-win solution.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Gadsden Who???

James Gadsden, the U.S. Minister to Mexico, negotiated an agreement with Mexico, finalized in 1854. The United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico. This provided the land necessary for a southern transcontinental railroad and attempted to resolve conflicts that lingered after the Mexican-American War. Without this purchase, Tucson and Yuma would be in Mexico.

In April, 2020, a Tucson based geocacher developed a "Challenge Cache" based on the Gadsden Purchase. It required finding at least five caches in each of the 11 current counties that included land from the Gadsden Purchase. I already had finds in all 11 counties, but in five of them, I did not yet have at least 5 finds. In a couple of the others, I had over 1000 finds but that didn't help!

I spent some time studying the map with one eye on county lines and the other on potential geocaches that would be relatively easy to find. I added a handful of others, just because I was going to be driving by and they were cache types that interest me. I developed a plan in Cachetur which told me it would be 720 miles. First stop of importance was Santa Cruz County where I logged the caches I needed and spotted some pronghorn on the hill keeping an eye on me.

The next caches I "had" to have were in New Mexico, but I wasn't going to pass the the chance for a couple Whereigo caches, including one that highlighted some of the remaining neon signs in Benson.

The Texas Canyon rest stop was a worthy stop where I studied some of the granite boulders for an Earthcache. It's amazing how much geology I've learned from Earthcaches. Makes me wish I'd studied some geology in school.

I knew I wasn't going to want to try to do this as one massively long day so I started late enough that Hidalgo County, NM became a good spot for a boondock. There were a couple caches at exit 4, and I knew that there were some defunct businesses there, but the area was less inviting than the last time I was through here.

I wandered down to exit 11 where I found some waterfront property for my overnight boondock, just as the sun was setting. It got down to 34 degrees overnight, but I was expecting that.

I headed east as the sun rose the next morning, grabbing coffee in Lordsburg and then heading to Deming where I logged the caches I needed in Luna County before turning back to the northwest towards Silver City.

I picked up several in the Silver City area, completing what I needed for Grant County. In the process, I solved a puzzle cache and got a bit of education at Western New Mexico University. Geocaching is certainly easier when classes aren't in session!

By noon I was back in Arizona, enjoying the twistiest road of the trip, headed for the last cache I would need to meet the requirements of the challenge.

Once again, I got a chance to see things I wouldn't have seen otherwise, and enjoy some socially distanced windshield time. Life is good!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Who was Dylan?

The last couple months, a new geocacher has been placing some interesting caches, primarily near the west end of Canyon Lake. I've driven the twisting road several times this past month, either with BJ or with another geocaching friend. 

The caches are generally located within 1/4 mile of the road, but take you to very interesting viewpoints. The hills are mostly volcanic tuff tipped up on edge.

Some of the caches had beautiful views of Canyon Lake. Based on some of the log entries, these caches are placed in memory of a son & brother. Mom is picking some really special places to hide these caches.

Many of them involved some exercise. The view points usually aren't located in the valleys!

BJ and I managed to get First to Find on a couple of them.

One of them was located near a small abandoned mine site. We've driven past this for 30 years and never knew it was here.

Spotted the remains of what I think was an oil bath air cleaner, but nothing of any significance. Did a bit of research after this trip but couldn't find anything about a mine in that location.

Got a test run in on the Silver Subie. Glad to have the engine rebuild finished. It's almost time to change out the break-in oil.

Loving the change to do some local wandering and seeing what's around the next corner.