On the way

June 12, 2019 Comments off

Extremely shaky zoomed image at the Imogen Heap concert in San Francisco:

imogenHeap

Whilst at Lake Solano, we saw beautiful peacocks:

peacock

North Fork, Yuba River:

YubaRiver

 

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Van Roof Bars

June 7, 2019 Comments off

A few weeks ago, we ordered and received some Vantech Roof Bars for the van. The main idea was to provide support for one or more solar panels.

I’ve taken a while to get around to installing them, but yesterday, I had the inclination and opportunity. Here they are:

vanroofbars

It wasn’t a particularly difficult job, but why, oh why, did they require the use of both 12 and 13 mm metric wrenches?

Not much to add except that they didn’t fall off when driving along today.

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Pigs

June 7, 2019 2 comments

The last couple of nights we spent at Coyote Lake County Park, above Gilroy, CA (garlic capital of the world!!!).

It’s a really lovely park, along by the reservoir.

But each camp site had ‘bear boxes’ and taped to them was a warning that wild pigs that weren’t afraid of humans abounded.

The following morning, B got lucky and got a few shots of the pigs:

FeralPigs

Later that day, I was sitting outside the trailer, listening to music over headphones, and one of them came up and nuzzled my leg. I don’t know who was more surprised when I jumped.

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Lakes

June 2, 2019 Comments off

Subtitle – Some you can, some you can’t

We planned on heading to Horse Creek Campground at Lake Kaweah, where we enjoyed a stay a few years ago. It’s a Corps of Engineers facility, which, in our experience, are generally very good.

This time it was not to be, as the campground gates were locked shut. It turns out that the campground was flooded from all the rain and snow melt coming off the mountains to the East.

So we stayed overnight at Lemon Cove Village RV park, a few miles down the highway, and booked a site for a couple of nights at Camp Edison on Shaver Lake for the following 2 days.

Holy cow! The road after the Auberry turn-off goes from about 2,000 feet to 5,000 feet in just a few short miles, literally going up the side of a mountain. By the time we reached Camp Edison, we were near 6,000 feet up.

Clear, sunny and warm in the morning, thunder and rain and cool in the afternoon both days. That’s fine 🙂

ShaverLake

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Gliding

May 31, 2019 Comments off

Well, we’ve started out on this summer’s trip. First stop was Glen Helen Regional Park, at the base of Cajon Pass, the place where railtracks and Interstate 15 combine to make an overnight stay less than peaceful.

We moved on the next morning and headed to Tehachapi, to Mountain Valley (really) RV park, which is a pretty relaxing place, so we decided to stay two nights.

One of the features of Mountain Valley is the Glider Port abutting the RV park. So it’s kind of neat watching the tug plane towing the gliders up into the sky. Photos follow:

Getting ready

gettingready

getting started…

airborne

airborne…

flyingby

tow plane…

towplane

glider…

glider

up and away…

awaytheygo

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Van Conversion – take 2

May 6, 2019 Comments off

It took 12 months to realize that our van conversion just didn’t work. Main complaints being that there was too little space between the shelves for 2 folks to sleep comfortably, and that accessing whatever was on the shelves was a PITA, requiring scrambling around on knees, finding the correct container, and so on. Plus, we found that if we happened to have a 120 VAC connection nearby, there was no easy way to bring that connection into the van, and shut the door at the same time.

We also wanted to keep to the idea that we could turn it back into a plain van. So, no permanent structures that would impede full access.

So, we got rid of the shelves. Sold them on Craigslist.

The issue of the 120 VAC connection was easy to solve. We got San Diego Trailer Supply to install an external socket….

and a 20 amp breaker and 4 way socket….

So now we can hook up our Indel B fridge/freezer and a 400 watt battery charger for our ‘house’ battery (plus charge up or power anything that needs 120 VAC).

To solve the storage issue, we got a MorRyde Slide out tray and had San Diego Trailer Supply install it…

That thing is just fantastic! It’ll support 400 pounds and slide out 80% of its length.

To remedy the sleeping problem, I used rivet nuts and lengths of 1.5 inch aluminum right angle bolted to those rivet nuts along each side of the van, to support half inch birch ply, itself braced with aluminum C-channel, to create a bed platform above the slide out tray…

 This turned out to be pretty darn rigid, but we have some ‘legs’ that we can brace it with, if needed.

This now means that we have plenty of space for the inflatable mattress…

We haven’t yet actually slept up there, but we’ve tried bouncing around as though we might have been, and it seems solid. My pals were concerned that the stresses on the rivet nuts might be too much for the inner side walls. This does not seem to be the case.

More to follow….

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Baja Trip. Wrap Up

March 11, 2019 Comments off

We drove just over 3000 miles. This on a peninsular that’s only 900 miles long. Side trips, loads of them, are the difference. Fuel ‘economy’ was a smidgeon under 15 mpg, which in fact is remarkably good for this vehicle, in our experience. The average cost per gallon in Mexico turned out to be US$3.65 and that’s for Magna (87 octane). We had no issues with anyone trying to ‘cheat’ us in any way on gas (or any other transaction, for that matter).

Money and exchange rates. We can’t prove it, but it seemed that paying in US$ got us a worse exchange rate than getting pesos from the ATM at a bank and paying in local currency. The bank with the ATM and our credit union in the USA take a bite out of the ATM transaction, but even so it seemed to be in our favor.

Despite the fact that we’ve done the same Spanish language classes (level 1 & 2) three times at our local adult education scheme, we still were absolutely hopeless with the lingo. It began to start ‘coming back’ to us after the second week, but really slowly. The only excuse we have is that we are old. Despite this, we always managed to figure out with the Spanish-only speakers what it was they wanted/we wanted, because they really try to work with you.

There are Walmarts in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito and Ensenada. OK, but who knew there is a Walmart Supercenter in La Paz. Plus, the Bodega Aurrera chain is owned by Walmart (and has Walmart WiFi).

We took enough clothes for 7 days. We found that laundromats are widely available, and ‘servicio’ (service washes) are frequently available and cheap. B broke out with livid rashes on her face and hands, which could be due to whatever laundry chemicals that had been used on our service washes/hotel bedding. Next time, we’ll be sure to use our own low allergy laundry liquid, and try and avoid hotels (or, bring our own pillowcase since B’s rash wasn’t all over).

Sirius/XM Radio works just fine. Except, in our case when you get as far south as La Paz, and then it’s just useless. The ‘techie’ in me thinks that the satellite signal is ‘focussed’ on the USA, and you just run out of ‘edge’ signal, that far south.

Wifi/Cellular data is ubiquitous. Where people are ubiquitous. Otherwise, it’s non-existent. That seems reasonable. We got an AT&T pre-paid SIM for one of our phones, and we were able to roam on TELMEX almost everywhere in the towns and cities along Mex 1. It was mostly HSPA, except in La Paz, where we had LTE. We got nothing in Bahia de  Los Angeles. Most hotels had some form of WiFi. On average, the WiFi wasn’t too bad, sometimes exceptional, sometimes, just useless. Even Rancho Meling had WiFi, sort of.

Google Maps vs Garmin. For ever, we have found that Google Maps is a great way to run your phone’s battery down, without offering much more than Garmin GPS does. And Garmin, because it’s satellite based, is available everywhere, unlike the cellular data based Google Maps. This changes in Baja. The actual maps are pretty much like for like, but what Google Maps knows about restaurants and places to visit, and so on and so on, way outstrips the limited information that Garmin has in its database.

Finally, we rediscovered that the people in Baja California are honest, hard-working and charming. I’m certain that there are bad apples, but we didn’t encounter a single one.

 

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