Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “Tourista!”

The Badlands Photo Extravaganza

Sometimes it’s best to just show a place for what it is, and not distract with words. I haven’t been here for three decades, and although the people-herding side of the Badlands National Park has changed a lot, the natural features have not.

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Wall, South Dakota

Ugh! The view out my screen window was like an RV park just for tenters. And this is after some had already moved out!

My second night at the Sage Creek Campground was much like the first: crowded, with lots of chattering going on until all hours. It obviously appeals to many, but it’s not my favorite camping experience.

The window view out the other side was better, except for more vehicles packed in close beside the Intrepid.

After a mediocre night’s sleep, what’s a budding hermit to do? Move out. I headed for greater metropolitan Wall. Despite a cloudless sky, I had to go to an alternate location on my list but do it in a timely manner, since storms were predicted to arrive about 2 PM. In sufficient quantities, rain can make trail passage difficult, and my alternate location is known for mud in wet weather. Downtown Wall offers Read more…

Buffalo in the Badlands

I offer for your amusement this very brief video (about 40MB) which I captured with my Pentax DSLR on the road to camp.

During filming, the optical eyepiece is blocked out and the rear LCD display shows what is being captured. In bright sunlight, that’s a problem. I could only make out what was land and what was sky – pretty much, anyway. Afterward, stabilization in software helped with the result. Looks like I’ll be unpacking the ancient Canon digital tape videocam while I’m here. It has an optical eyepiece.

This place hit 85 yesterday, then a low of 48 last night. A severe thunderstorm skated past in the late afternoon and early evening, but it was far enough off to the south to merely rumble in the distance. The campground was pretty well packed out with young Read more…

Entering the Badlands!

Not too much of this in Illinois, I must say. The scenery is great, but the lack of tire-swallowing potholes is a bit unnerving.

The start of the day saw the Mighty Furd being refueled at a Sinclair station, seeing as how it seems to like Sinclair diesel fuel best. In airing up the tires behind the station, their system got both fronts to 75 PSI, but the couldn’t top 70 after that. I could hear the inside air pump re-pressurizing the tank, but it didn’t make much difference. The station next door didn’t have any air supply, so I popped the Ford’s hood and hooked up my Viair pump to finish the job. The new ARB digital pressure gauge thingie worked better than I’d hoped for, but I’ll save that tedium for another time.

Did I mention lots of bikers?

After quite a few miles through Buffalo Gap National Grassland, I hit the eastern-most entrance to Badlands National Park. My America the Beautiful Senior Pass netted me entry and a very helpful brochure with map. This being a Wednesday, there were lots of visitors, the majority being refugees from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally still ongoing. Most of the drive through the park is on the paved Badlands Loop Road, which has oodles of viewpoints distributed Read more…

National Museum of the US Air Force

2/3rds of the way in from my parking space, the lobby of the museum beckons. Hangar one is on the right.

You may find this delayed post to be worthwhile. Just south of Dayton Ohio, this museum is certainly the best aircraft museum I’ve ever seen and, just as certainly, the most expansive. I got there at noon on July 3rd, and although every car parking slot was filled, the RV section a quarter of a mile away at the outskirts still had spaces. What a mob! Plus, groups of cadets were assembled outside in an area peppered with stone markers dedicated to the various Air Force and Air Corps units who served during wars. The lobby was bustling but not unduly so. Once in hanger one, no issues. Plenty of acreage for everybody.

I’ll begin near the beginning. This is a Wright Military Flyer replica (1955) of the one that first flew in 1909. The Wrights first flew in 1903 and that is considered by most to be the first truly controlled flight, as opposed to momentary hops off the ground. It used wing warping instead of ailerons to control side-to-side tilt, a feature which has been reinvented in much more recent aircraft. They were the first to create a practical means of 3-axis control, making fixed-wing flight practical. This was flown for two years by the US Army for two years as a flight trainer. It crashed and was rebuilt several times before it was retired and replaced by what would become more conventional designs.

Let me just sum it up: incredible. There are four extremely large hangars packed with aircraft, both on the concrete and suspended by wire overhead. When I say extremely large, I mean that they had a B-52 bomber packed into hanger one, along with many other large bombers and cargo planes, no sweat. Somehow, even the fighters seemed larger than they do when Read more…

Pentwater, Michigan

One of the nicest tourist traps in Michigan, Pentwater offers much to amuse.

Even though I’m now in Columbus, Ohio visiting yet another relative and mooching all I can, I thought it appropriate to look back at the little burg of Pentwater, which has a nice, protected harbor on the shores of mighty Lake Michigan. This post is mainly just a photo essay, so let’s get at it. Read more…

Overland Expo West 2017 – Part 3

[The following video in this post weighs in at 300MB, so those on limited cellular data plans may prefer to not click on it in order to save their bandwidth for higher things.]

On the last day of the Expo, Land Rover opened up their test track to other vehicles, and three remarkable rigs showed up to take advantage of the opportunity. One was some kind of huge, ex-military truck, one was the little Pinzgauer (also ex-military), and one was an Earth Roamer XV-LT, a model no longer in production. (The XV-LTS “luxury expedition vehicle” that replaced it boasts 1,200 watts of solar, a 90-gallon freshwater tank, and a maximum range of 900 miles. It also carries a battery pack rated at about 1,000 amp hours capacity. Yow.)  This is the rig that starts at some $438,000 and change, being based on a highly modified Ford F-550 chassis. Due to its personalized license plates, I am convinced that this particular Earth Roamer is owned by the president of the company. Who was actually behind the wheel at the track, I do not know.

You’ll notice a few things about the footage. First is that each vehicle tends to stop and start, and even reverse at times. This is done as tires leave the ground, locking differentials are engaged, or for various and sundry reasons. Some parts of the video have been sped up to twice their normal pace. This stands out for Read more…

Elden Pueblo

It’s hard to believe that one can just pull off from US-89 in Flagstaff and be transported back close to 1,000 years.

Tomorrow begins the 8-day commute back to Illinois, so I resupplied one last time in Flagstaff, Arizona and found a comparatively noisy haven at a Conoco Travel Center on the far north side of the city. Literally across the street from the so-called Carter Travel Center at 7180 US-89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, is the Elden Pueblo, a very early settlement of what have been later dubbed the Sinagua People. It seems that when Sunset Crater Volcano, 10 miles northeast, erupted in about 1,000AD, it coincided with a 20-year drought and motivated the locals to move to higher, moister elevations than before. Being Puebloan people, a few families set up camp and started construction.

I won’t get into the rather extensive details provided by a brochure at the site (which gets into a spot-by-spot description of what you’re probably looking at), but I will recite the points that I found notable. More people moved in, and by 1150AD, this site became Read more…

Overland Expo West 2017 – Part 2

It must be nice to have the means to support a Unimog 4×4, in a way. I wouldn’t want one, but I still think they’re slick.

Opps! Hit the wrong button! Oh well. Enjoy!! This post is much more pictures than text, so let’s get at it! –

This Oregon Trail’R was one of many teardrop trailer variants. This one trades artistic integrity for utility. Trail-friendly, roof rack for holding an awning, solar panels, or what have you.

Land Rover debuted their reimagined Defender from a legendary boxy fossil to a thoroughly modern SUV compromised enough to appeal to the Starbucks-slurping crowd. Despite a very sophisticated and capable 4WD drivetrain, forward progress is in the eye of the beholder. (This example is not actually tipping, it’s simply revealing its street car design priority.)

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Overland Expo West 2017 – Part 1

Lots of couples, lots of kids. The Expo was popular, to say the least.

[Caution for those having limited cellular data plans: there are many (small) photos in this post below, so you may want to stop loading this page right now before your Internet provider slides you into the $15/Gig penalty box for overage. Text usually comes through first.]

At its new venue at the Fort Tuthill County Park, the Overland Expo West went from being hopelessly jammed in camping arrangements to being merely crowded. The dispersed camping area was not suited to especially tall or long rigs, and signups for weekend camping passes were restricted to this end. The display space was sprawling and had the raw space available for more, if need be in future years. I was surprised that Crux Offroad (an aluminum bridge/traction device maker) was not there, but each vendor has to make their own decisionaside from the nice LED ceiling lights in the Grandby, as to whether displaying at the show is worth the effort and expense. Nonetheless, a wide variety of rig and accessory outfits and individuals  showed up and showed off.

My hero! Adventure TV series producer, author, videographer and all ’round nice guy Mr. Andrew St. Pierre White hung out for awhile at the BF Goodrich trailer, since they sponsor him and always display at the Expo. I asked him a practical question about signing up for one of his online video-making classes, which dwell on techniques and why, instead of being software instructions. I also suggested that he invoice the Coca-Cola company for product placement, since he’s addicted to it and it shows in his pieces. He began to respond painfully, “I afraid I don’t represent their demographic…” before he looked at his giggling 10-year-old daughter and pointed at her saying, “…but YOU do!” She seemed delighted to possibly become Daddy’s Little Income Stream, jumping up and down.

I’ll show a mass of pictures below, which are pretty much self-explanatory. Three occurrences worthy of mention are not shown.

Overlanding videos ranging from shorts to one hour ran all day, every day in the “Theater”, which was a re-purposed auditorium with folding chairs. The fare varied from Read more…

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