Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Nothing Doing!




First, some photos of the Horseshoe Meadows road near Lone Pine, California that I found on the cutting room floor.


Since I’m still waiting for my membership in the Procrastinators Club to be approved, I thought I would get a few things out of the way.  First, I re-installed that slippery bit of slide seal that keeps trying to escape.  Only time and a few rough miles will tell if this repair was more successful than last time. 

I had a slide actuator causing trouble several years ago, so I took the rig to RV Lifestyles in Quartzsite, where they determined that it ‘didn’t work’ and told me that I would need a new one.  Before I threw out the old one that time, I took it apart myself and found that it was simply a case of one of the brushes being stuck.  It was fixed with a few well-aimed blows from my poundometer (hammer).  Or as I think it was Shadowmoss commented – ‘percussive maintenance’!  So anyway, the slide had worked good ever since – till this fall, when all sorts of issues have tested my patience and bank account.  For the last few weeks I have been using a hand crank to move the slide in and out – which could actually be considered good exercise for those who don’t mind laying on your back in the mud/dust/thorns, cow poop, cranking 253 times with a shot of gravel in the mouth/ears/eyes/nose every time you bump the wrong spot.  At long last I could not come up with any more excuses not to have a look at it.  Once again, I cut the wires and moved it into the operating room – otherwise known as the kitchen table – for open gear surgery.  While most of the parts seemed to be in excellent shape, it appeared that some water had seeped in to a few areas, creating some rust and corrosion.  I cleaned all of that up as well as I could, but that same little brush as before was going to be a problem, and percussive maintenance was not going to be enough this time.  The poor little spring was either too weak or had rusted away, and was not doing the job.  It was about the same size as the spring in a ball-point pen, but try as I might, I could not find a way to get a new spring in there.  But it needed something to hold the brush in place….


Hmmm?  After a quick look around, I found a chunk of dried silicone sealant, left laying around from the slide seal project.  Deftly slicing a perfectly sized piece, it was inserted in the spring channel, and it worked perfectly.  I put it all back together again; and then did it a second time because I thought it might work better if I returned ALL (!) the parts to their rightful spots this time!   And – Bonus …  Years ago when I had finished the maintenance, one of the wires was not long enough, unless I wired it backwards – which I did.  So this time was the perfect opportunity to add some new wiring and get it right!  So now, confusing as it might be, pressing the ‘in’ button causes the slide to go ‘in’, and  - well, you get the idea.  And the whole thing sounds much healthier than it has in years!  Keep your fingers crossed.

Hiking along the shoreline of this section of Lake Mead showed there were numerous little sheltered bays that were just begging to be explored.  So – with a couple of huffs and puffs of the air pump, the kayak was inflated and exploration was conducted.


Looking around my neighbourhood, there were a few other rigs in sight, one of which had a website emblazoned across the front, somewhat reminiscent of the Bayfield Bunch!

It was  A quick check online found the website and quite a number of videos – some of which were done at that exact location!  I sent them a quick note and the next day Laurie & Scott stopped by for a visit.  They are full-timers from Colorado, and are traveling with their two cats.  Check out their website and Facebook.  Very nice folks.


I finally had a chance to burn some of that lovely driftwood that I had collected on the beach in California.  Since I was camped in the same spot I have used several times before, I recalled sharing this fire on the lakeshore with Don & Donna as well as John & Nicole, from Alberta and BC respectively.


Water levels are down yet again in Lake Mead.  Last time I was down there before the road was closed, water was not even visible from the boat launch at Overton Beach.  I drove down to nearby Echo Bay to have a look around.  They have had to move the launch area a long ways to reach the water.

The original boat launch access … is blocked off.


Those are not barns in the trees.  They are what used to be floating, covered docks.  Behind them is the end of the original launch ramp, now high and dry.  And at one time the water level was right up the the buildings in the distant background.  All those trees have grown up since the water levels dropped.


Of course, all the area where we now camp was all submerged a few decades ago, as evidenced by all the ‘sea shells’ scattered in the gravel.

For the first time, I was able to walk all the way out to the point of land in the photo behind Hailey.



In other news, the BayfieldBunch  have completed the long trek from Ontario, to Arizona – via Florida!  Hope to see them out on the boondocking circuit before too long.  John & Brenda have migrated from Dogpound north to Dogpound south near Maricopa, where Blue II waits to take them on trail rides near and far.  A confidential source has informed me that inactive blogger Wandering Willy is once again on the move south, seeing things with brand new eyes.  I have to be nice to him for a while however, as he is bringing along some satellite internet parts that might get my system back up and running again.  I think Jean & Skip are still in BC, awaiting the right time to come south and begin to thaw out.  Ernie, Deb and Moki are eagerly waiting in Saskatchewan till they can head south, as are Don & Donna in Alberta, and John, Nicole, and Nibbs in BC.  There’s no shortage of boondocking space here, so come on down!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lone Pine to Lake Mead


It was an enjoyable stay in the Alabama Hills above Lone Pine, Ca.  The highest peaks were getting a dusting of fresh snow, and it would not be much longer before that started to extend to lower elevations.  Hailey’s rock climbing skills were improving daily, but it was time to hitch up and head somewhere down the road.


Besides, Hailey’s lizard friends were beginning to tire of her games!


Down in Lone Pine we filled a propane bottle, filled the diesel tank, and took on water – in case there was a shortage, in Death Valley!

I haven’t been through Death Valley in quite a few years, and Hailey has never been there, so we decided that it was time to check it out again. 

It might have been a better choice to hit the steep grades of the valley with all tanks empty, but one never likes to get caught without water, so we went wet.


We looked at a couple of campgrounds down in the valley, at Stovepipe Wells and Furnace creek, and even though beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the camping options I saw did not really beg to be explored further …



After a quick walk-through of the visitor center we continued on down the Badwater road.  There were a LOT of cars parked at the Badwater viewpoint, and everyone was out walking on the dry lake bed.  I finally figured out that they were likely looking for that lowest spot of 282 feet below sea level. 

Soon, dusk was upon us, and a scenic roadside pull off served as a stopping place, with slightly more ambience than some of the campgrounds we had passed up on!


Next morning, with hot coffee in hand, we cruised on through Shosone, and into Pahrump.  A Big-O tire place camp into view at 8 in the morning, so we stopped and asked to get the trailer tires rotated to spread the wear around.  Well, they decided that one or two of my tires were ‘separated’, so ended up just putting on the spare, and refusing to even put air back into the tire I had been driving on!  They really wanted to sell me some new tires, and as each actor (I mean tire technician) would walk by they would ooh and aah, and mutter like they had never seen a worse tire ever!  Ya, well, we’ll put a few more miles on and get another opinion down the road somewhere.  Let’s go to Vegas!

Over the next pass and we were soon coasting and braking through a long construction zone down into Vegas, where we picked up the I-15. 


Even though it was mid-day, the interstate was pretty clogged and almost stop and go most of the way through Vegas.  Hailey was clearly stressed by the whole ordeal.


Eventually, the traffic eased as we got north past Nellis AFB.  As the sun was setting, we rolled into Overton, aired up the spare tire again (!), and headed for Stewarts Point.  There had been some significant recent rainfall in the area.  Signs were up in Overton warning of flooded roads and many areas of fresh mud were evident.  At Stewarts Point there was plenty of evidence of minor flood damage, so it was with extra caution that we maneuvered across the flats and through the dips in the dark to our usual spot, which was thankfully vacant.  Since it was US Thanksgiving, we tried to be extra thankful!  Thankful was not in the vocabulary when it was discovered that a strip of seal seems bound and determined to escape from above one of the slides.  It had already been returned and secured (?) into it’s spot, but clearly the repair was insufficient.  We’ll get up there again and bolt, staple, glue, nail, or screw it in place again.  That saying about misfortunes happening in threes – bunch of bunk.  Pretty sure things are happening in 9’s this year.


But – whatever.  Here we are parked with a lake view, supplies all topped off, good weather, no hassles, time on our hands, and for that, we are THANKFUL!


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California

The time spent soaking at all the various hot springs in the Mammoth Lakes area was as usual, very relaxing and enjoyable, but with all then tents moving in around us, Hailey didn’t have the chance to spend as much time outdoors as usual.  Much of my time was also spent on the phone with the Galaxy Broadband people trying to get my satellite system back online.

It’s always interesting people you run into while soaking in the hot springs.  Several times it was agreed by all that there would be no political discussions, but inevitably the results of the recent election and the likely ramifications got hashed over yet again.  Fortunately, it seemed that everyone there was on the same page.  As per usual (!), some of these nice folks had no idea where Alberta was – even one lady who said she had lived in Seattle for 3 years!

I was also able to watch both the rise and setting of the largest, closest moon in about 70 years, from separate hot pools.  But even with the brightest moonlight ever, some of the visitors were using headlamps to simply navigate the trails to the springs!  Mammoth mountain had just opened for skiing, so that no doubt increased the traffic to the hot pools.

After being thoroughly soaked for a few days, we pulled in the slides (including one that has started to insist on being cranked in by hand), hooked up and headed on down the road.  Bishop was the first stop for some fuel and propane, then we rolled on down the 395 into Big Pine.  The elusive stealth blogger Wandering Willy had recommended a drive up to the Bristlecone Pine area.  So with that in mind, the rig was dropped at a convenient spot right next to the highway, and we were off for drive to 10,000’.



The visitor center was closed for the season, but there are lots of outdoor exhibits and some nearby trails that are still open.  The road carries on past there, but the pavement ends and the gravel road was much too rough to be enjoyable, so we retraced our steps and coasted back down into the Owens valley.


Carrying on south from Big Pine, we spotted a road heading west that I thought might join up with the famed Movie Rd in the Alabama Hills at Lone Pine.  After one wrong turn that ended up at an old abandoned mine site, and some quality washboard, we were indeed on Movie road.  My scenic spot from last year was taken, but I found an even better spot that was closer to town, yet further off the road.

It was not a good sign to see a local kangaroo rat running around under the rig eagerly looking for a way in even before things were unhooked.  Speaking of unhooked, the bits of quality washboard on the way in had done a nice job emptying some shelves and upsetting everything that wasn’t tied down ;-(.  In the morning, Hailey was keen to get out and check out the scenery and views of Mt Whitney.  After a short orientation on leash, she was off climbing over, under, through and around the rocks to her hearts content.  She really seems to like rock climbing!


Previously, on visits to the area, we have driven up to Whitney Portal, which is a long climbing switchback up to campgrounds and trailheads for Mt Whitney.  But further to the south, I had seen another road that also switch backed it’s way back up into the mountains.  I had assumed that it was likely a very rough 4x4 route, or at least gated.  But much to my surprise and pleasure, it was open and paved all the way up.  Unlike Whitney Portal road, that ends in a fairly shady, dark canyon, this Horseshoe Meadows road comes out on a wide open flat plateau complete with campgrounds, equestrian areas, and trailheads leading up the the Pacific Crest Trail.


The temptation was just too much, so the hiking boots were strapped on and I headed up the trail to see where it went.  Hailey had stayed behind as a welcoming party for any kangaroo rats that were foolish enough to try to get into the rig.

Our camp was about 4400’, and the road climbed to 9600 according to the altimeter on my watch, so it was soon above 10,000 as I followed the trail towards Cottonwood Pass.



After a time, and a bit of huffing and puffing in the relatively thin air, the summit of the pass was reached at 11,200 feet.  It was cool and breezy up there, with a few tiny snow patches.  Unlike back home, there are still large trees at this elevation.


After getting back to the truck, there was still a lot of scenery to take in on the drive back down.  The views across Owens Lake and the whole Owens valley are unobstructed from this road clinging to the edge.

That’s our camp in the centre of the photo just off Movie Road.



There were some more beautiful moonlit nights back at camp, so It was time for some more 30 second time exposures again.