Monday, May 28, 2018

Where to Next?

Regular readers long ago figured out that the blog tends to trail real time by weeks. Sometimes, I'll have several already written & scheduled for future publication. Other times, it's just a title and some notes.

This one sat in the Blogger editor for weeks with the title and some cryptic notes, "Working our way north - jasper - Vancouver Island."

We had plans to depart May 15th, wander our way north, cross paths with our son & his family in Jasper for Memorial Day weekend, and then head for Vancouver Island for a few weeks. Key word is "had."

Instead, we're still at home, traveling twice a week to Physical Therapy appointments for BJ. Her back is slowly getting better, but we're not committing to thousands of miles of travel this summer.

I'm hoping that we'll get out together for some short trips later in the summer.

Meanwhile, we've invested in something that BJ's wanted for years.  We're both really impressed with how well this ILIFE V3s Robotic Vacuum does. I finally gave up trying to get a good picture of it in action and decided to use this fuzzy one instead.

Looks like I'll be spending some time creating more 'interesting' caches in the shop this summer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


With the Scamp outfitted with new tires and the wheel bearings freshly packed, it seemed only appropriate that I should give it a short road test before we head out on our summer travels. While BJ continued working on the amazing scrapbook she's building about our cruise, I headed for the pine trees of Prescott.

I'd done some research on Campendium and decided that a spot on Senator Highway would be my first choice. There are several designated boondocking spots along the 'highway.' I picked #3 and made myself to home, in a spot with good solar and not a lot of  'highway' (a gravel road here) visibility. It didn't take long to get settled into this spot at about 6300' elevation with temps about 20 degrees below Phoenix.

Once camp was set, I headed for the little town of Yarnell to pay a visit to the State's newest park, "Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park."

Nineteen hotshots died here in a wild fire nearly five years ago.

Like a lot of other places, it's been years since I last visited Prescott. I really enjoyed some of the statuary around the courthouse

and in other locations around town.

One of the days I was there I teamed up with a couple friends to do some geocaching. We were rather amazed to see the size of some of the caches we located.

The next day I headed to Jerome, a community perched on the side of a mountain. Once a mining town (copper, silver, gold), then a ghost town, Jerome is now an artist's community and a town where parking downtown is nearly impossible. For me, the best part about Jerome is the rust that remains.

From Jerome, I continued to Clarksdale and on to Cottonwood where I made the best discovery of the trip!

I was rolling slowly through downtown Cottonwood, looking for a place to eat lunch when I spotted a bunch of cars parked outside an old service station. Bing's Burger Station had just opened a couple weeks previous.

One of the walls inside was covered with license plates.

The counter looked like it was straight out of the 1950's.
Apparently they use Sinclair Opaline motor oil for their fries.

Without a doubt, one of the top five hamburgers I've ever had! It was outstanding! Clearly the best cache I found on this trip!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Powerful Scamp

After I did the battery upgrade, I decided to update my 12 volt outlet that I'd installed years ago next to the street side dinette seat. I was impressed with the units that Jeff selected for his rig, and decided to follow suit. I removed my Blue Sea outlet and replaced it with a Cllena combo unit. The street side installation was quick and easy since I'd run in a new circuit when I installed the Blue Sea outlet that I was able to leverage.

The curb side install was more work but I didn't get a picture while I have everything opened up. Ended up with both seat tops off so I could run a new circuit from the power panel across the back of the trailer. It was actually amazingly easy to fish the wires through the chase that conceals the pex water lines.

The new circuit supports the outlet that I installed on the curb-side of the dinette, midway between the water pump switch and the wall.

It's going to be nice to have power on both sides of the dinette and to have USB sources as well as the classic 12 volt cigarette lighter style.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Might Get Wet

With a couple weeks to get things in shape before we travel, I decided to drop the sea kayak in Saguaro Lake and go pick up a series of my caches that have been in place for over 2 1/2 years. During that time, some of them have only been visited once. I could leave them in place but it's getting to be more hassle going out to do an annual maintenance check on them, so I pulled them out with the thought the containers might be put to use elsewhere.

The timing was right - lots of the cactus were blooming!

I brought the kayak home after that trip, wiped it down and hung it up, wondering when it might be used again.

Just a couple days later, the phone made its obnoxious notification that a new cache had published. This time, it was a cache that was placed a couple miles up from the launch point at Canyon lake. There were some other caches out there that I wanted to check on, so it seemed only logical to load the kayak on the car and make another trip to a lake.

Getting on the water just as the sun lights up the hills is always special. Amazingly, there wasn't another boat of any type on the lake. I had the place to myself which is extra special.

As I paddled up lake, I wondered if I would see any Desert Bighorn Sheep like we did last time I paddled this part of the lake. Turns out, the answer to that question was yes! This time a group of six including one ram.

Three of the younger ones were down at the edge of the lake getting a drink. - Well, at least two of them were...

It didn't take long for the third young one to decide I didn't pose a threat and came down to join the others.

The vultures were out keeping an eye on things as well.

By the time I got back to the beach, I'd logged a First to Find on the recently published cache, DNF'd one that hadn't been found for over four years, took a pass on one that was going to be too challenging to access without gouging up the kayak, and answered all the questions for a relatively new earth cache. In addition, I picked up a whole bunch of flotsam - seemed appropriate for a cache that was named Beer Can Point!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What to Do?? Tired, Again!

Tires have always been an important consideration for RVs, and perhaps even more so for tires on heavily loaded single axle trailers. We'd only had the Scamp for six months when I installed a set of Maxxis UE-168 light truck tires to increase the safety margin. By the time we headed to Alaska, we were already running into availability issues.

On our return from our Alaska trip, I switched to 15" rims with Continental Vanco 215/70R15 tires that have provided excellent service for nearly five years, but once again, my tire of choice is no longer available! Apparently, Westfalia owners have switched to 16 inch rims to get higher capacity tires, reducing the marketplace for the specific size I need.

Since we continue to have tire diameter limitations due to our garage door clearance, I was only able to locate one tire that had nearly the same load capacity as the Continental's and the same outside diameter.

We ended up going back to the 14" wheels, and for the first time, I actually bought Trailer Service tires instead of Light Truck tires, because it was all I could find.

For a number of years, Goodyear had a terrible (and well deserved) reputation for their Marathon ST tires. Made in China, they had a bad habit of unexpected blowouts.

Goodyear quit making the Marathon and introduced a new design, the Endurance, for the trailer market. They make them in the US. They've been out for a couple years and have very positive feedback.

The best combination of load and tire diameter (for our situation) was to go back to the 14" wheels which gave us a tire with 2200 pound design capacity. We could have gotten more capacity with the 15" wheel but we would have lost our ability to garage the trailer at home.

We're all set, with three new tires, and the wheel bearings inspected and repacked. Here's hoping our experience with the Goodyear Endurance is as good as it was with the Continental Vanco.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Geocaching Northwet

All week (and for weeks previous) the forecast was calling for rain. The Spokane River was running high and fast. The Earth Cache at this point was observable, but ground zero was about 60 feet out from shore.

I'd never visited Post Falls before - just driven through. The Spokane river temporarily splits here, rushing through some narrow slots that have been leveraged for power production for decades.

This time I wanted to spend a bit of time since there were some quality caches in the area. There was an excellent earth cache at the falls,

A challenge cache, some letterbox caches, and more earth caches rounded out the few hours I had available on my last day in Spokane.

First thing the next morning, I jumped on a flight to Seattle where there was no question about the weather. With rental car in hand, I headed to Tacoma where I would work a few chosen caches and then start my way north.

I haven't visited downtown Tacoma for forty years. They've done a great job of redevelopment. With the paper mills gone, the obnoxious smell is gone as well. Now the University of Washington has a notable presence.

One of the newer additions to the area is the Glass Bridge which features three different collections of Chihuly glass.
As is typical of Chihuly, the glass includes wonderful colors, swirls, and shapes. Unfortunately, in my quest to concentrate on some virtuals, earth caches, and key challenges, I totally missed that there was a nearby webcam cache that I should have visited.

The near constant rain let up a bit as I approached a couple of caches in Point Defiance Park, where the trees sport thick coats of moss.

A visit to a peat bog was appropriately accompanied by rain.

As I worked to the north, I made a decision to not pay $20 for game day parking near Safeco field (or Pike Street market.)

The nice thing about stopping under I-5's Ship Canal Bridge was easy parking. The not so nice thing was that moss grows on picnic table benches, too.
The thing I like about geocaching is that it takes me to places I wouldn't have visited otherwise. Kerry Park is such an example. It's a little pocket park up on the side of Queen Anne hill that sports a very interesting view of Seattle. It would be really special on a clear day!

I just touched the surface, not even scratching it. I need to spend more time wandering around the area!