Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

The Busy Bee Syndrome

In the same way that a 1960 Cadillac is a motorcar, this vintage Holiday Rambler Aluma-Lite travel trailer brings a touch of magnificence to the concept of Wretched Excess. I’ll have to ask what length and year it is, but it looks like 33′ at perhaps 10,000 pounds loaded. Unlike the prestige nameplates of today, in its prime the quality of Holiday Rambler materials and construction was high, and upscale meant more than gewgaws posing as “amenities”. The brand has since been bought and sold a few times, and the current owner manufactures only motorhomes now.

It really has been an activity scramble here, more so than upon arrival “home” in past years. I’ve been reviewing what has and hasn’t worked out well on the road, then researching each area and addressing it in some fashion. That review ranges from rig hardware, devices and software, to myself. The Four Wheel pop-up truck camper itself was notable for its pronounced absence of issues and inconveniences. The solar system I added on worked, yet didn’t perform as hoped for. I’ll detail that once I physically fix the problem.

The Corsair Voyager Slider X1. Read speeds are okay, but God help you when you need to write data to it. And this is the replacement I received when the original scrambled and went unreadable two weeks in.

My laptop, used among other things to edit and store photos and videos, was positively glacial in how fast it could call up, process and transfer data files. That was my doing, because I’d been having to rely on using an external USB3 thumb drive as the hardest working drive, the internal drive being very fast but too small in capacity to hold all that’s needed. The USB drive proved fine for simple file transfers, but when thrashed hard while programs pulled and pushed data to “live” libraries, it suffered constipation (not to mention abdominal cramping and gas) from the get-go. Simply closing or quitting my photo editing program took minutes for it to button itself up, instead of seconds. Sorting through some halfway affordable solutions took quite some time, as did the “how-to” of replacing a main drive with no risk of losing anything. (Hint: always have a Plan B available for when Murphy’s Law kicks in.) Updating the operating system in a majorly way sometimes causes one or two third-party programs to Read more…


Of Faucets, E-bikes & Food

I kinda feel sorry for the few people who have recently subscribed to this blog. Instead of photos and videos of me gimping up rough 4×4 trails and camping in scenic spots, worrying in my own sheltered, suburban way about damaging the Mighty Furd or scrambling the contents of the Four Wheel Grandby, they (and you) get a few months of wintering in Yuma in a TT, and whining about how long my to-do list is. Don’t worry, spring will come. Until then, though…

The Legend of the Self-Healing Roof

Last summer took its toll in the Defiant, my 1994 TT parked near Yuma, Arizona. I had the rear roof vent cover replaced, since a Monsoon Season storm blew the cover right off. I had to hold the stepladder for the guy who got up there to do it for me, since he could have had a Bad Day while transitioning from the ladder to the roof and back. He had guts, I’ll say that for him. I replaced the cover gasket myself later, since he wasn’t stocking one in his van. That doesn’t require more than standing on an extension ladder and leaning way over. That might take care of the slow water leak when high winds come from the rear of the trailer during the occasional rain.

This is an old photo of the Defiant, taken before I added the Intrepid to the Mighty Furd’s bed.

What’s unusual is that the one-piece aluminum sheet covering the roof Read more…

The Evolution of Thanksgiving

Relevant dates in this holiday’s history.

As with most U.S. holidays, Thanksgiving slowly morphed into something that more accurately reflects our priorities and culture. In the year 1620, the Mayflower landed in a small bay just north of Cape Cod. Aboard were Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution in England. Well…they were, but we skipped a step in recounting events. In 1534, England broke ties with the Pope and the Catholic Church. The reasons were not so much religious as they were marital and political. King Henry VIII resented the Pope’s interference in his unusual string of serial monogamy. He instituted the Church of England, to which Protestant reformers flocked. They were later called Puritans, because they hoped to purify the new Church of traditions and practices which they considered to be unBiblical.

Here’s a newspaper’s account of Washington’s proclamation.

Well, progress in that effort was molasses slow, and eventually a small separatist group emerged from the Read more…

Pima Air & Space Museum

How’s this for obscure? This Columbia XJL-1 amphibious plane was developed and built from a Grumman design in 1946, then accepted for testing by the Navy in 1947. The 3rd of 3 built, it suffered repeated structural failures in 1948, and was dropped from the program in 1949. Two surviving examples were sold to a Martin Aircraft engineer for $450, and he worked at restoring them until his death in 1955. In 1957, his widow sold this one to a Chicago resident on the condition that he make the plane fly at least once, which he did later that same year.

If you like a goodly percentage of aircraft that you’re unlikely to see anywhere else, the Pima Air & Space museum is for you. It’s a private, non-profit museum in Tucson, Arizona. With 150 aircraft indoors and another 150 on the grounds spread out over 80 acres, this is an aircraft extravaganza not to be missed. They claim that you can see everything in 3-4 hours, but this is an optimized estimate based on fast-marching and tram-riding like there is no tomorrow. I suspect this timing assumes that the visitor take a stout dose of amphetamines, wear roller skates, and have an aversion to reading informational placards. If you want to stop and gawk or want to get up close, the additional minutes quickly add to the hour count.

This 1970 Pereira Osprey II amphibian was tested for use as a civil police observation plane in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It successfully completed tests, but was dropped anyway. It became a home-built kit plane in 1975, with 200 sold. This one was wrecked in 1982 after an engine failure, then was rebuilt over the next 6 years. It can reach 130 MPH, which is not too shabby for an amphibious Short Takeoff and Landing craft (STOL).

There are 4 hangers, of which I toured one and listened to a volunteer docent do his thing on each craft. I got there about 9:15AM and gawked, then did the docent-guided tour at 10:30, which lasted until 11:20. That gave me just enough time to grab a reserved seat on the tram tour, which lasted almost an hour. By that time, I decided that Read more…

Ups and Downs

Yup, my mousepad needs a good scrub, but I smile every time I look at it!

I made it to Wellton yesterday, where my travel trailer is parked! The summer bake was not kind to the Defiant, among other things. After unloading all the junk clogging its main aisle and setting it on the concrete patio, I found that the overhead living room lights no longer work, and a change of bulbs had no effect, so that will probably come down to trying to locate a similar fixture, assuming that its rather cheesy slide switch is deceased. More significant is that an apparent windstorm from the east ratcheted the forward roof vent fully open, but I was able to crank it closed again without difficulty. The rearward roof vent over the bathroom, however, was not so fortunate. That one, being just a couple of years old, opened and then Read more…

The ARB Digital Tire Inflator

Airing back up after a rough trail has just gotten a lot faster, more convenient, and more accurate.

I’ve mentioned this product before, but it’s worth reviewing again for anyone who airs down tires more than occasionally. This post is more video-centric, but you can get more product details here. Most four-wheelers (day-trip rough trail enthusiasts) approach readjusting tire pressures like many campers approach basic no-frills overnighting. They rough it, and enjoy jettisoning convenience. They poke something/anything into the tire valves to let air out, and periodically check pressure with a pocket tire gauge. Then to air back up at the end of the trail, they monitor the built-in gauge on their favorite air pump. Since their vehicles are light and typically use tires that Read more…

Bighorn Campground in Glenwood, New Mexico

Bighorn Campground near Glenwood, New Mexico.

This post isn’t so much about the Bighorn Campground as it is a rave about the scenery on continuing southwest from there. About all that can be said about Glenwood Campground is that it makes a handy overnight stopping place if you’re in the area. It’s beside and below a relatively unused highway, and consists of several gravel drives along a wandering path in. It offers metal picnic tables of questionable usefulness, and a very clean vault toilet that needs you to BYOTP. Overall, it’s small and scruffy, and although you can stay there 14 days, it and nearby Glenwood have no compelling draw to hang around for more than a day or two unless you’re just looking for a place to blow time at. Since I’ve been thoroughly spoiled by where I’ve spent my summer, I’m now picky.

Below is a sort of dashcam of the drive from Grants, New Mexico to Glenwood, a trip of about 180 miles that gave me an eye-popping 19MPG fuel average. 11 minutes in length, it’s in 3 segments. Nothing truly heroic about it, but it does catch some of the scenery onroute if you have the bandwidth. There’s a sort of push-pull effect Read more…

I Had the Cutting Board Blues

The 7-minute video below presents two ways to address kitchen knives that seem to dull too quickly – the Epicurean Cutting Board and the Edge-Mag knife sheath. They are both very good products that are worth their price – except that the Edge-Mag needs an easy mod before it should be put into service. As-is, I can’t recommend it. Modded, it’s a definite winner.

The presentation itself is not a winner, there being two strikes against it. I’ll mention my end of the difficulties below, and save the hardware geekoid aspect for another post. The non-geekoid aspect of the geekoid aspect is simply the toll that age and heavy use take on electronic gizmos. Much like myself, they get cranky and obstinate. They develop quirks. Thus in this video, you’ll notice audio volume changes, tiny pieces of the video missing, and audio going out of sync. I’m working on exploring the issue and getting the bugs out of the process, but whether I will succeed or not is unknown at this point.

The other strike is that I do not particularly enjoy being in front of the camera in the few videos that I create, for reasons that become obvious once you take in the footage. But some presentations for topics become more communicative when a human being is there, yapping at you. It looks more like an honest word-of-mouth recommendation than some kind of paid viral product sales job. I enjoy the creative process of making videos, but I do not enjoy being in them.

From the start, I wondered “Why bother with a video with its setup, capture and editing, when I could just take a few snaps and write that I like these two products?” After all, a writeup is so much easier. And then people will never discover that I pause and say “Umm” a lot when I try to speak while I’m waiting for the next thought to rattle down the pipe. “Why bother” is that video is a realm that I’ve done a few times out of necessity. You’d think that if you can capture stuff in photographs passably well, then capturing them in video surely can’t be much of a difference, right? Nope. There is remarkably little similarity, other than looking through a viewfinder and pressing a button. If you want to get past the home movie stage, it’s a lot more complex and more involved. A really good video never reminds you that it’s a video about something, drawing attention to itself. It just presents its topic, and that’s what you dwell on. I don’t know how easily this skill comes to some people, but as for me, no, I can tell it doesn’t. It requires a different way of thinking and approaching that I’m simply not used to. It also requires a lot more energy and effort, start to finish. But, since I find it interesting and mysterious, thus you are made to suffer for my art, my learning process. I certainly prefer that to my having to suffer for it. So, out they come one by one, here and there. Fortunately for you, you can let them pass by unwatched, and no one’s the wiser. Win/win!

I’ll insert here a loose quote from Martin Scorsese, the noted film director, who I guess has either semi-retired or has a lot of nervous energy. He’s running ads promoting his new course on film directing. I’ve seen it here and there on the Internet. In it, he notes something in his fast, clipped tone, something a lot like, “When you’re starting out at this and have gotten a chance to take on a project, if you watch that day’s footage and don’t become physically ill – and I mean physically ill – then you’re doing something wrong.”

Well, I’ve done some event coverage videos in my former life that I thought were okay for what they were, at the time. Car shows, gymkhanas, road races, mud bogs. Many were merely photo stills with Ken Burns slow-zoom effects and soundtracks, and some were real action videos. Some were a mix of the two. I posted them, proud and happy. Event coverage means that they must be done and posted in a very timely way, so they don’t need to be filmmaking epics. Then on a passing whim, if I watched any one of the “real videos” a few months later, it became obvious that it had problems. I can’t specifically identify a fix to a lot of those problems, but they are certainly there. I can smell the faint stink wandering between capture limitations, editing issues, and sound. Rewatch the same video a year or two later, and it’s an embarrassment. The raw footage is okay – you can only get certain set vantage points at an event with one guy and one camera, after all – but the editing, the way the final presentation comes across, is head-in-hands awful. It’s not that I had learned a lot in the interim, but that I’d finally been able to separate myself from the work enough to be objective.

The difference between me, a guy just goofing around with a camera, and a trained and skilled pro, is that he can see his mistakes the first time he looks at just the raw captures of the day. Me, I’m glad to have gotten anything at all, so my disappointment usually takes months or years after the project has been completed and posted. I may not know how to do a certain part of it better, but I do come to know that something is seriously wrong…eventually. The pieces do not fit, or do not work together to do what I was assuming they did. If nothing else, I want to move that sense of disgust much further forward. Thankfully, I have never recognized enough at any one viewing to become physically ill, despite the stakes being personally quite high for me at the time. But, I do recognize – with considerable delay – that the bulk of video work that I post is at kindergarten level. That’s humiliating of course, but it also makes me want to be able to sense what’s wrong during the process, and see some options on how to address it. These days, I can only do so much with the equipment I have, the energy and time periods that I have available, and the simple types of pieces that I want to do. I don’t even need to get good. I just want to get to that point where I can look at it later with the same viewpoint I had when when I first completed it.

The video above? Well, it’s horrid too, but at least it’s obvious what’s wrong, and what would be needed to fix it: raw footage without glitches in it, more aggressive editing to shorten it up and give it a sense of direction, and certain casting/personnel changes. I’m doing what I can to see what can be done about them, although there aren’t a lot of options for problem #3. Still, as far as I’m concerned, this is progress already – I’m recognizing specific problems during the editing process. Oddly, the whole goal is not to get to where you the viewer enjoy watching any videos that I may churn out while I continue to fumble around with this new-to-me format. That is of course important to me, but when push comes to shove, the absolute priority is that I progress enough in the process such that I’m satisfied with the end product. Unless I like it first, I can’t really hear whatever you might have to say about the effectiveness of the presentation (not the topic itself). Are we having fun yet?

The Nature of God – Part 13

[If you are just now stumbling onto this post without having read the various parts in this series from the beginning, I strongly urge you to go back to the start and continue on from there through each successive post. None of these individual entries stand on their own, and you may wind up with little but confusion and unanswered questions by starting here. That is easily done by entering “The Nature of God” in the search box on the home page, which will list links to all available parts.]

This is the last post that deals with my personal experiences, and the last post of this series. Here, I have to skip ahead to somewhat more current times in order to relate what I think of as the most recent great communication of God with me, information-wise. For me, it was a great truth, unanticipated, that tied together and answered a number of questions I had. It dispelled a lot of bad assumptions I’d carried. And, it revealed more of God’s nature, but in a way that made Him even more distinctly unlike us, and me.

For many years, what began to weigh on me more and more was, “Why me?” I was the guy who, when healed of a recurring ailment at a young age, accepted it and then ignored Him. I was the guy who did not hesitate to say no when approached by the Spirit of the Living God for relationship! I refused, and that should have rightly been the end of it. I only came around much later because Read more…

El Morro National Monument

But first – before leaving Milan, New Mexico, I took a few pleasant moments to Hoover up this seafood pasta salad at Wow Diner. They serve some eclectic dishes there, and a stop there is well worth the effort. Yum!

[This is a photo-heavy post, so if you’re scraping by on a tiny cellular account, you may want to abandon ship now, before too many of them have downloaded. They’re small files, but there are a lot of them.]

Yup, I’ve been well out of range of any cellular signals for the last week, blowing that time at a campground that can be found while heading for the Visitor’s Center at El Morro. It’s all paved roads and vault toilets here, so considering those and the provided trash bins, staying here is not exactly roughing it. The GPS coordinates for the camp are 35.036999, -108.335999. Elevation is 7,200’, providing daytime highs in the 60s in Late October. Maximum posted rig length is 27’, and this is a very pleasant camp that seems to be used mainly for overnights only.

Simply a view down the campground road.

Some of the campsites here are quite short in parking length, and some are able to take longer rigs. Most have some degree of slope to them. This campground is designed mainly for tenters, providing a level gravel square bordered by wood planks at each. There are tenters here, a few car campers, a small pickup with a shell over the bed, an occasional small truck camper, and a fair number of small van-based motorhomes – including a formidable one that seems to have made its way over from Germany. Picnic tables and grilles are provided, and surrounding trees provide Read more…

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