Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Mod Squad”

Rock Cut State Park


Due to the 14-day limit at Chain o’ Lakes State Park, Rock Cut, out near Rockford Illinois, is the only viable alternative for a short stay. But with all the necessary activities and need to get out and about most days, I haven’t seen much of either of these parks, actually. Between that, the heat, and the frequent fronts of rain moving in, taking care of business is usually the order of the day. “Business” that has included seeing good friends, my beloved chilluns and grandchilluns, annual medical checks, and registering a home address change with the entities that I do actual business with.

The drivers license change will have to wait until next year, since they want me to produce mail with the new address on it, which is not easy when you just moved and you’ve selected “paperless” as your preferred receiving mode. I’ll have to remember to turn on the “paper spigots” next February or April at the latest, in order to accumulate mailings from the “proper” kinds of outfits in time for my next arrival. Pity my poor son, who will have to use a laundry basket to store my mail instead of a handy little envelope-sized bin.

Of necessity, life here more resembles a continuation of the Read more…


Cranes, and Stuff

Awww, look at that little guy!

Yesterday began nicely, even though it once again was destined to become hot and humid. I had spotted the crane family you see above days before as they wandered around both the campsites and the shallower water areas. This shot as taken just as I was leaving for an appointment in a nearby town. As photos go, it’s a miserable one to be sure, but who knows when I’d get another chance?

There are snapping turtles in the area too – one lady recently found one that had been run over by a car, put it in her trunk, and hauled it back up to the entrance shack, where she was encouraged to take it to the Read more…

The Americanization of Overlanding

Like a modern-day Norman Rockwell painting, this photo has every possible “Adventuring” cliche packed in. Photo Source: Expedition Portal

Travel has always been popular, but ever since the 1920s and 1930s, world travel picked up as the thing to do, if you had the funds. Hollywood glamorized it as a way that sophisticated people could take in other interesting cultures in exotic locales. Whether by ship, by train or even by aircraft in the later years, travel and stories of travel and adventure held a fascination for people unable or unwilling to take on the very considerable challenges that world travel could sometimes impose. Modified cars and trucks tended to be used only for well-funded “expeditions”.

World travel tends to be very different today, because the world is very different. One has to look hard for areas that have not been heavily Westernized such that such that the original dress, diet and culture that were once so alluring have been largely erased. With business, political, and military interests driving colonialism and the forced installation of accommodating governments, conditional foreign aid payments or covert operations where direct force would appear a little too obvious, a sense of moral and even racial superiority, plus tourism itself, where the clientele expect Western accommodations, diet and conveniences after they’ve viewed what they came to see, and individual corporations striving to change the local culture enough to accommodate them – these have all taken their toll over the years. In the end, many of the culturally-based things that people go to see are now recreations maintained just for the sake of the local tourism industry. Once authentic, they are now museum performances. Any authentic vestiges of the culture are often only viewable by making the effort to get away from the areas of even moderate development.

World travel today isn’t so much “travel” as “arrival”. Whatever romance or inconveniences the slower mode of travel included, those are gone.

World travel in the twentieth century has always been principally based on mass transportation. It still is today. You use it to get to a destination directly, then depart it, explore, and experience. What is today called overlanding is a branch of world travel that dispenses with mass transportation and substitutes getting yourself across the landscape to Point B by way of a personal vehicle. Classical overlanding is planned vehicle-based travel, typically including border crossing(s), making or providing one’s own shelter, and carrying enough food, water and fuel to be able to reach various supply points along the planned route. This not being a jaunt from motel and restaurant to motel and restaurant, self-reliance is required for both Read more…

Air Spring Day

After an overnight stay at Escapees North Ranch in Congress, Arizona (a judicious stop to shower, do laundry, take on water and get rid of trash for $7.50), I made my way to Nichols AutoFab in Prescott to have some air springs installed on the rear suspension of the Mighty Furd. Recommended by my Four Wheel Camper dealer Adventure Trailer, AutoFab has a shop and a couple of bays packed into what is the most claustrophobic hole in the wall mixed-use shop mall I’ve ever seen. The limited parking lot for the group was claustrophobic for the Mighty Furd, anyway.

In a repair bay intended mainly for Jeeps, the Intrepid needed a cautious backing up.

Prescott is an interesting town nestled within the Prescott National Forest at an elevation of 5,600′, measured at whatever point they consider this burg’s nexus to be. The general landscape for the town is challenging, requiring either that the roads follow valleys or paths along forested hillsides, or that massive walls be built beside the newer multi-lane roads to keep back the earth and rock that they short-cut through. With a population of just 40,000 people, the terrain turns the city into a genuine sprawler, each home and business finding a Read more…

Equipment Follow-Up

The Evelo Aurora, fitted for an errand run.

This here’s a minor post on the e-bike and the printer, just to indicate how things are working out for those who might be considering adding these items to their Squandered Resources Arsenal.

The indications of a fading e-bike battery is becoming confirmed. I rode the 4 miles to town and back yesterday, although the total mileage actually expanded to over 14 miles. The principal casualty was of course my posterior, since it takes regular outings to condition same for longer rides. That hasn’t happened over the last 9 months or so. I’ve been walking. Despite the special Ergon grips, my Read more…

Gags, Humor, and Solar Power

The Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT.

The Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT.

I recently managed to replace the misbehaving Outback SmartHarvest 20A MPPT solar charge controller with a proper Morningstar controller, and now all is right with the world. The Outback was exceptionally naughty right out of the box, and its replacement was no better. The USA office of Outback appeared to be manned only with sales types and customer service reps, with no technical staff on board. The sole solution seemed to be trying another unit. So I did, but opted for the Sunsaver. Since I could not in good conscience sell or even give the SmartHarvest away, it is now residing in the local landfill, where it belongs.

With Morningstar’s remote temperature sender attached to one of my batteries, the Sunsaver now operates in tandem with their TriStar MPPT 45A. The Tristar handles everything coming in from the 360W roof panels, while the Sunsaver serves to feed power in from the 200W ground panels via the external rear wall plug that comes standard with the Four Wheel camper. (A simple internal wiring harness change was needed to feed both of these units to the same battery pack for my installation.) Four Wheel uses the less expensive Read more…

Traction Jackson

This is from an annual mud bogging event called Mudfest. This careworn 2WD Dodge pickup didn't make it through the trough of gumbo, but it wasn't from lack of trying!

This is from an annual mud bogging event called Mudfest. This careworn 2WD Dodge pickup didn’t make it through the trough of gumbo, but it wasn’t from lack of trying!

[This post is a long one, so you may want to read some and return later. I do not follow the convention of breaking it up into its components, since each of those components interweave with each other to some degree. When the overall topic is finding traction, I’d just as soon publish an article that can serve as a reference, than shotgun the thing just so I can get more web traffic, with the hope that you will consider subsidizing my lunacy. (That comes later, after I’ve established my empire. But don’t worry, I won’t be sending in Brownshirts or anything, for intimidation. They’ll be more like Desert Sage-Shirts, or possibly Taupeshirts… Camo has been SO overdone!) Thus if you have an interest in this traction topic, you can saw your way through. And if you don’t care to infect yourself with it, you won’t be subjected by its different parts for weeks.]

A frequent question I come across among campers in relatively small camping vehicles is “Do I need four-wheel drive?” If you’ve already been camping for awhile and have established the types of places you prefer, the answer is already apparent either way. If you are either an armchair camper planning to get out there someday, or already camp but want to expand the types of places that you drive through or to, the answer can be more elusive.

I’ve been working on this particular topic for well over a year, and the end result is markedly different than the start. I’ve dumped it and started over a couple of times in an attempt to get down to the nitty gritty of it. It started out as a review of all the different types of 4×4 driveline systems as well as tire types and their applicability to different terrains. I found that epic type of presentation to be more overwhelming and boring than helpful. So if you think this article is bad, you should have read its predecessor. While I consider it essential to understand certain basics of how your vehicle reacts Read more…

State of the Intrepid – Scan & Print

Primera Trio with its cover open.

Primera Trio with its cover open.

If there’s one thing I quietly agonized over while setting up the Intrepid, it was what to do about scanning and printing. There have been times when I’ve needed to receive PDF forms which can’t be edited on the computer, so they must be printed and filled out by hand (and perhaps signed) and then either be mailed, or scanned and emailed back. These tend to center around either medical forms, or such things as fishing licenses, which then need to be printed out and carried with me. This can be a problem in the boonies. The vexing thing is that printing and/or scanning isn’t a frequent thing, so once you figure it’s worth the money and all-important storage space, then you need to decide whether you really need both capabilities, and whether you really need to be able to handle letter-size sheets.

Naturally, I researched the usual compact printer solutions. They tended to be rather large, and my available space to stow them is very limited. Adding in the need for scanning complicated this further. In my experience, inkjet printers don’t do well with inactivity – the cartridges dry up and go gimpy, then it’s a battle with a wet paper towel. I looked at thermal transfer, dye-sublimation (sub dye) and laser printers as alternatives, and couldn’t Read more…

State of the Intrepid – E-Bike Carrier System

The Evelo Aurora cannot be carried by a top-tube carrier, so a wheel hoop carrier is called for.

The Evelo Aurora cannot be carried by a top-tube carrier, so a wheel hoop carrier is called for.

The Hollywood Racks HR1450E Sport Rider SE2 2-Bike e-bike carrier that I use at the front of the truck has required about as much attention as a new refrigerator/freezer. Once you yank the anti-rattle handle that keeps it tight in your hitch receiver a few times during the first month, that’s about it for “maintenance”. I’ve already covered this carrier’s features on my Evelo Test Mule page, so I’ll pretty much keep to usage effects over the last two years.

The wheel hoops are easy to adjust to fit different sizes of bike. I've reversed the rear pair to better support my BOB bike trailer.

The wheel hoops are easy to adjust to fit different sizes of bike. I’ve reversed the rear pair to better support my BOB bike trailer.

The Hollywood carrier supports the bike at the wheels, and the hoops can be quickly adjusted from side to side in order to accommodate various bike wheelbases. You just loosen a large knob, slide a hoop, and retighten. For my purposes, final adjustment required some finesse, so that the bike’s cranks would clear the vertical tube and also center between the truck’s headlamps. Two height-adjustable hooks (of which I use only one) drape over the bike’s main tube. Adjustment is instantaneous thanks to a simple squeeze lever at each Read more…

State of the Intrepid – The Cargo Box

The StowAway cargo box as originally mounted in February of this year.

The StowAway cargo box as originally mounted in February of this year.

The “small” standard model of StowAway cargo box has been awfully handy, and is a clean way to transport goods in the swirl of dust that often trails behind the truck. The white color I chose is unusual and does show dust easily, but so does the black one, and the temperature rise inside the white version is much less. White also discourages heat-induced lid warpage that can compromise gasket sealing and the ability to latch the lid closed. That makes it appropriate for storing away those items which would quickly degrade if left in Yuma’s spectacular summer heat, like my old Pentax film cameras and videocam, as well as the e-bike’s spare battery. Wheel levelers, camera tripods, books, bike parts and tools, lubes and maintenance chemicals, you name it. Whatever could not fit in the camper’s twin benches (due to the added batteries) or posed a semi-hazard in an enclosed space, went into this cargo box.

This is a swingaway version, which can be locked at 90 degrees or swung to 180.

This is a swingaway version, which can be locked at 90 degrees or swung to 180.

My StowAway is a swing-away frame version, which is a good thing on a rear-entry camper. Any misgivings I had about its frame strength under a heavily-loaded box are gone – I absentmindedly drove it for ten miles along a 65 MPH two-lane with Read more…

Post Navigation