Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Knot Too Shabby Update

Regular readers know that Kathy's Knot Too Shabby suffered some road rash on our way home from last fall's Green River trip. She had some vacation time prior to Christmas so we got started with the fixes. For some reason, I don't have any pictures of the minor repairs to the hull.

After adding fiberglass reinforcement to the bow, stern, and one area along part of the port chine, we flipped it right side up and started marking spots that would need some attention - anything from light sanding to heavier sanding and fiberglass replacement or reinforcement.

The damage was less than what we originally thought, but there were several places along the port shear line where the fiberglass had been worn away along with a bit of the wood.

We were pleasantly surprised when much of the "damage" disappeared with some sanding.

We ended up adding a single layer of glass on the port shear from the front of the cockpit to the stern, and a second layer near the paddler's hips, simply as some additional wear surface in case someone got sloppy with their paddling. We added a similar doubler layer on the starboard shear in the same place.

With the glass 'wet-out' with epoxy, the raw wood areas disappeared as we anticipated.

The front of the coaming had taken a lot of abuse so we added a couple layers of 17 oz glass to build it back up, and then covered the glass with Saran Wrap to hold it down while it cured.

Since the pictures, we did some sanding of the cured epoxy. Kathy will do a bit more epoxy work and then hand sand the whole deck in preparation for varnishing. When it's done, bystanders won't ever notice the repairs.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Year Aspirations

It's been way too long since the Scamp has been out of the garage but that's changing real soon now.

But first, there's the 9th Annual Friends of Helen trip over MLK weekend, assuming the weather cooperates. I assume it will be another big group, but always fun.

We'll head to Quartzsite on January 19th or 20th for the famous 'Big Tent' RV Show. We've attended before, but our son is interested in attending with us because he likes to hear our reaction to RV floorplans and features. It's as much excuse as I need to attend. We'll likely camp north of town at Plomosa Road while we're there.

While we're there, I want to attend the 2nd Annual Quartzsite Blogger Gathering. I missed last year by just a couple days. It will be a nice chance to meet bloggers that I regularly read. They'll be meeting on Saturday, January 23rd somewhere in the Plomosa Road BLM short term area.

As long as we're in Southwest Arizona, I'm looking forward to attending a large geocaching event in Yuma the following weekend. South West Arizona Geocachers are presenting their 13th Annual MEGA event which draws cachers from around the world. We'll likely stay at Mittry Lake or possibly Fortuna Pond. Still debating about taking the canoe along.

The Quartzsite Fiberglass Gathering continues to grow and attract folks from a very wide area. While the event is technically just three days - February 12th to 14th, lots of folks (including us) show up early to enjoy time with folks that we typically only see once each year. We're planning to join the Early Birds at Dome Rock no later than Tuesday, February 9th.

We're also planning some time in Flagstaff in late February. Could be cold and snowy or cool and dry. Only time will tell.

I have two friends that have landed invitations for private Grand Canyon river trips. Izzy is launching with a group on March 13th, and Helen and her dory are launching with a group that is all dories two days later. Both of them were on the trip that I joined two years ago. I'm planning on spending a few days at Lee's Ferry to see them and help (or get in the way) with launch preparations.

The only other reservations we currently have are for 6 days at Waterloo County Park in Waterloo, Oregon starting April 20th. This will be the second time we've attended the Spring Northern Oregon Gathering (NOG). Last time we attended before continuing our trip to Alaska in 2013 and were credited with bringing sunshine with us. I don't know if we'll be able to do it again, but we'll try. ;-) I'm not sure what route we'll take north.

After the NOG we'll spend some time wandering around the Northwest. I've asked Ellen at Glory Farm what might be on their project list, I understand my brother in Spokane may have some projects, and I'd love to visit friends in Three Hills, Alberta. If I'm really lucky, we'll work in a factory visit in Chilliwack and maybe a visit to Kellogg, Idaho. With lots of family and friends in the Northwest, we'll see who wants us to stop by.

After that (or before that,) who knows what our future may hold? The only other thing that's starting to percolate is plans for our annual Green River trip in late September. We'll be making shuttle reservations for that one real soon now.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas in the Desert

We normally don't have to deal with freezing weather, but the past couple weeks have certainly been much cooler than normal. BJ got a picture of frost on the hot tub that I really liked. I didn't get a picture of the frosty windshield. Friends are laughing, but I don't own a scraper so I get to wait for the windows to defrost.

The luminaries are out on the curb

and the neighbor's yard is sporting pink flamingo with antlers even though we don't live in Florida

while another neighbor's saguaro is sporting a classy red hat.

Even the pig on the porch is dressed for the holidays.

BJ has the tree decorated and the house smelling like cookies. As we celebrate Christmas and remember the reason for the season, I'd like wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hawes Trail

It worked! A local cacher placed a series of caches along the Hawes Trail (map) in hopes of getting some people to visit. He'd placed one a couple weeks ago that I visited and it hadn't seen any other traffic since my FTF. This time, he placed ten, but they were published in two separate sets.

The first pair were published in the afternoon while I was in Queen Creek working with Kathy on her boat repairs. I decided if no one else logged them, I would go out the next morning. Temps were near freezing at sunrise which was a bit tough for us weather wimps.

The trail is in the Tonto National Forest, but runs along the southern border of the forest. Very nice housing developments to the south and west

with desert and occasional views of Red Mountain to the north and west. Usually the Red Mountain views were grand in scale

but sometimes the mountain would try to hide as the trail would dip behind a hill.

The first morning was a 4 mile round trip for two caches, Fat Tire & Vanilla Porter. The next day, 8 more caches were published so BJ and I got more organized, parking her car at Thomas & Power at the lower end of the trail, making that a nearly 4 mile one-way hike.

This area had fewer Saguaro than some of the areas I hike and lots more cats claw to make bushwhacking a challenge, but the vast majority of the caches were within steps of the trail.

On the first morning, I heard a peregrine and then spotted it on the top of a power pole. It was on the same pole top the next day, keeping an eye out for breakfast!

On the second day when BJ and I went out together, we waited until 10 a.m. before we started our hike, making the temps much better. Even with a later start, we were still First To Find on all of the caches. At least this time, there were a few other geocachers that came out, but all of them were a couple hours behind us.

Access to the Hawes Trail is a bit constricted. We parked BJ's car in the Walgreen lot at Thomas & Power. Hawes Trail can be accessed at the lower end from the 1.2 mile Fence Line trail on the west side of the Las Sentas development.

We parked my truck at the entrance to the gated Diamond Point neighborhood at the north end of Hawes Road

and then hiked up the Mountain Wash trail (immediately west of the Diamond Point entrance) to intersect the Hawes Trail. The Hawes Trail can also be accessed from Usery Park via the Microwave Tower road, west of the park.

All in all, a couple nice hikes in some beautiful country!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Red Mountain

Like the Superstitions, Red Mountain is pretty much a fixture in our lives - visible when we go to the river, to church, or most anywhere to the north or west. It located on reservation land north of the Salt River and is especially colorful late in the afternoon or early in the morning.

A couple weeks ago, the phone chimed with a late afternoon e-mail announcing a new cache had published named Red Mountain Vista. With a name like that, we decided to see if we could pick up a First To Find (FTF). We got to the coordinates, managing to stay out of the mountain bikers way, and were the first to sign the logs.

The best part was watching the light change on the mountain as we hiked back to the truck just before the sun set. Turns out this cache was hidden by a gal who BJ has known for several years and who has done some dog sitting for us.

Usually, new caches around here are announced in the middle of the night. Rumor has it that the volunteer reviewer actually lives in Korea - thus the midnight to 4 am normal publishing times. Another cache was published a couple days ago but I was in the midst of my ditch digging project. When no one found it the first day, I headed out before sunrise the second day, hoping to snag another FTF.

It was fun watching the sunrise start to color the sky as I hiked out to the cache location. It was about a mile from the car and I had the trail to myself.

I signed the log and took a picture of Red Mountain before the morning light hit it. Once again, a FTF.

Both of these caches involved a couple mile hike (round trip) and are in locations with great views, but they are not getting many visits. I'm starting to think that most cachers around here are allergic to too much exercise.

The best part of the morning was the view of the mountain about the time I got back to the car. Morning light and a reflection in the Arizona Canal. A great way to start the morning!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Bridge Over ???

I was really surprised to spot a bridge where it didn't belong on one of my trips to the landfill.

A little closer view showed that it was sitting on a series of dollies or a complex trailer. There were two bucket trucks for linemen and a lead car parked nearby, but this clearly wasn't the final destination.

On the way back after shoveling off 3000 more pounds of fill dirt, I stopped to take some pictures. The bridge was built by Stinger Bridge & Iron in Coolidge, AZ. Since it was the middle of the day, I thought it was a bit strange to be parked with no one around.

It was a really neat trailer. There were three separate triple axle dollies, all mounted on a large, single, adjustable backbone. Each dolly could be positioned anywhere along the backbone, and each axle then had controllable air bags to manage how much weight each axle carried.

Surprisingly, at least to me, the bridge was supported on the trailer only at each end, with the rest of the steel bridged above the trailer.

Growing up around trucks, I'm always fascinated by heavy haul rigs - the more wheels the better! This Goldhofer trailer was built in Germany and appears to be very new.

Because I'm nosey, I had to make a phone call. Turns out this pedestrian bridge is part of new construction somewhere around the 101 / 51 area in North Phoenix.

The rear-most axle was clearly carrying excess weight as it sat there without air or hydraulics. I went back the next day in hopes of talking to someone, but the bridge was gone. Next time I'm driving around the loop on the north side of Phoenix, I'll have to keep my eyes open and see if I recognize the bridge in place.

Friday, December 11, 2015

I Got Stuck

Least you think that all I do these days is geocache, I'll include a post about home improvement. A few weeks ago we received a letter from the Home Owners Association requiring waterproofing of the retaining wall that borders common space. Our wall is the ONLY one in the neighborhood was wasn't built with a French Drain in place and the wall is now starting to seep, so...

We had a couple raised beds along that wall which meant the roses needed to be transplanted. Turk's not too happy since one of the beds was host to grape tomatoes in season which he really liked - he's been known to eat them off the vine when no one is looking.

As long as we were transplanting, some of the cactus got new containers as well. The original clay pots survived for over a decade, but were now falling apart, so they got re-potted and I got stuck

with tearing out the raised beds and hauling off dirt. The beds had been two blocks high, and the mortar and stucco held the blocks together much better than I expected. The sledge hammer got a good workout!

Turk kept a close eye on things. I had a bunch of rock that I moved by hand while he kept insisting on getting in the way. I'm not sure if he wanted to help or if he thought he could protest the project.

The trench for the French drain hasn't happened magically but it's getting a bit easier, as it gets a bit shallower and I've gotten past the tight clearance behind the hot tub.

I've still got about 20' to dig, but by the time I get to the end it's only 16" deep which will be easy. The challenge at this point is to find someone affordable to drill eight 2" holes through the wall foundation.

All the dirt from the raised beds and the trench is going to the landfill. The good news is that clean fill dirt is free since they need it for the cap. The other good news is that one of the very few Dutch Bros outlets in the East Valley is on the way home from the landfill so I get to reward myself for each trip. 15,000 pounds of fill dirt with another 4,000 pounds or so to go. Then I can reverse the process with clean river rock... which isn't on the route past Dutch Bros. :-(

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Totally Tubular

I wanted to build a gadget cache based on tubes. This one will likeIy take some time to solve. I’ve become more concerned with cache security so I wanted some way to retain it. When I spotted what I thought was an old 2 x 10 along the road in Coolidge, I had my solution.

The rustic stool will give a place to sit while solving the puzzle, and provides a way to secure the cache with a cable if desired.

All of the pieces are dadoed and then the pieces were all glued together and then pinned for double security with 5/8" oak dowels and more Gorilla Glue.

Since the wood was in worse shape than I originally thought, I applied a soaking coat of epoxy resin to stablize it.

Once the epoxy cured, the stool got three heavy coats of satin spar varnish and then the outer tube was fitted to the stool and the end fittings glued with ABS cement. The tube can't be removed without demolishing the stool or the tube.

Inside are more and more tubes. Somewhere there's a log for signatures.

This one was lots of fun to build, but needs a place that I can't provide. It will be made available in a raffle tonight. It will be fun to see who decides they want to be the cache owner for this one.

Note: the cache went home with Mile Hi Travelers who will find that perfect spot for it.