Thursday, January 31, 2019

Throttling back....

I am going to slow the posting of stuff on this blog way down for now....

Decisions to be made as to continued Uraling, a new way to explore off pavement, and just blogging in general.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Days 61 & 62: Back in Colorado

Friday, Jan 25

Left the Snyder Hill BLM site near Tucson before the sun was even up.  Drove the I-10 super slab eastbound towards the Monticello BLM site located to the north of Truth or Consequences, NM.

It's turning out to be my "go to" BLM site while transiting New Mexico.

Got there with plenty of time to run the 4KW generator and power the air compressor to blow out all the plumbing of water.

Heading back to cold Colorado you see, have to winterize the rig.  Had also stopped on the way to the BLM site to dump tanks at a Love's Travel Stop.

Drained the remaining water from the fresh water tank onto onboard containers which will get drained tomorrow before the big freeze on Monday.

Saturday, Jan 26

Long driving day, left camp at 0327AM and was home by 1330.  So roughly a ten hour trip with breaks and gas stops.

Dropped off Scarlett at home and unloaded the RV, then took her to the storage yard where I found my assigned spots occupied!  I was pissed.

Called the yard manager and she asked me to park near the visitor parking spots and she'd fix things on Monday.  While I did that, I saw an American Movers truck come in and park near my assigned spots.  The two guys proceeded to move their two cars that they'd left blocking my spot and backed the moving van into place.

I walked up to them, informed them it was my spot.  The driver apologized and moved the moving truck inmmediately and so I was able to park the URRV and trailer in the assigned spot.

Could have been an honest mistake or I suspect this crew just finds an open spot to temporarily store their truck while they reposition things.  The storage yard manager is supposed to talk to them on Monday.

That little hassle aside, Uma is put away and I'll spend some time this coming week getting her cleaned up and prepping her for the next camping trip.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 60: Returning to Colorado

Left Quartzsite this morning and ended up near Tucson by 5:00 PM. 

Long day behind the wheel but it's time to get back home and get some stuff done, Scarlett repaired or sold or both, and get Uma the URRV ready for another trip.

I did stop by my FIL's home to pick up the camera/lens and meds I'd forgotten to bring with me in the flight back to AZ from Denver.

Warm day, sunny skies, and I was in the RV driving...oh well.

So now spending the night at the Snyder Hill BLM site near Tucson.  It's becoming a regular stop for me while moving to and from Arizona.

Not very crowded today at the Snyder Hill BLM site

Got here with time to walk up the hill with camera in hand and prep to capture the sunset.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 59: Hanging with the Machidas

Spent the day hanging out with RichardM and Bridget at the campsite near Quartzsite, AZ.

The weather was warm and not windy at all which made it quite enjoyable to sit in the sun and chat about whatever was on our mind.  It would have been a perfect setting, but the large number of RVs surrounding us tended to ruin things a little bit.  Here's three views from the top of my URRV:

We did take RichardM's truck into town to check out e-bikes for Bridget but nothing suitable was found.  One place we tried did have a couple of used dirt bikes for sale: A '91 Honda XR250 which fit really nice when I sat on it and a Honda CRF250 which had a really hard seat and was a bit taller than I liked.

Bridget snuck this picture while I was
checking to see if I could flat foot the XR

No, I didn't test ride either or even think about buying one.  More research is in order and I've got to come to a decision about Scarlett first.  Fix and keep?  Fix and sell?  Sell at reduced price because it needs repairs?  Who knows?

Slowly coming to grips on what Urals are in terms of blogging and what future they have in same.

Along the same lines, once I finish this sojourn's postings, there may come a hiatus to my blogging.  We'll see, got to figure some things out first.

note: so many people here have caused Verizon to throttle download speeds to less than 1 Mbps and usually much slower!  Uploads aren't bad but not optimal.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 58: Scarlett having clutch issues....time to head home

Tuesday, Jan 22.

Ah, the vicissitudes of a Ural owner's life.

As I riding during lunch, seeking a better cell signal (and failing to do so), I started hearing this metallic rubbing noise coming from the clutch area on Scarlett.


It only happened when in gear and shifting gears, not in neutral.

Rode back to the campsite (no noise once the clutch lever is released) and drove Scarlett onto the trailer.

I checked the clutch release rod against the new spare I'd recently received from Randy of Unique Rides, my Ural dealer, and discovered the one I'd been carrying as a spare for years was shorter than the recently received rod!

As new clutch plates were deployed over last few years you see, they were a bit thicker so the rod had to be about 1/4" longer.

When I removed the rod, I found it showing damage on its square contact point with the clutch pressure plate.

So with RichardM's help, I replaced the short version of the clutch release rod with the longer version, got it all buttoned up and still had that noise while engaging the clutch lever.


So, Scarlett will remain on the trailer as I don't happen to travel with a replacement clutch pack!  Since Martha mailed me my camera and its not due to arrive till Thursday at my FIL's place in Sun City, I won't leave the campsite till Thursday.

I should be home by this weekend, will remove the gearbox to get at the clutch pack and see what's damaged, order parts, and see where that gets me.  What a PITA.

Really starting to think that perhaps I need something a bit more reliable in the stable....perhaps a two-person Razor ATV?  Get rid of the Urals and move on?

What do you think?

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 57: Linking up with RichardM in Quartzsite, AZ

Broke camp early and left the State Trust Land near Congress, AZ.

Leaving last night's campsite area

A couple of hours later, I was in the traffic zoo that is apparently Quartzsite in late January!

Holy Cow, never seen so many RVs and cars crammed into so small a town.  The BLM areas looked quite saturated as well.  December is definitely the time to be at Quartzsite, not late January when there's a Gem Show, Hamfest (Ham Radio gathering), Schoolie-Palooza (RVs converted from old school buses) and who knows what else type of gatherings.

I was meeting with our Alaska friends, RichardM and his lovely wife Bridget.  I turned into the area RichardM had texted me beforehand and he was there on his e-bike to guide me to his RV spot.

I parked Uma, the URRV, next to RichardM's rig as there was space and we visited for a bit.

After I got mostly settled, RichardM then supervised me as I removed Scarlett's pusher wheel, and removed the final drive so that we could replace the leaking seal where the drive shaft goes into the final drive.

RichardM showed me the trick of mounting the final drive on the wheel hub to enable easy access via the special tool to loosen the reverse-threaded collar that holds the seal:

I had previously, at home, tried supporting the final drive on a vise on the workbench but using it as show above is the way to go.  Thanks RichardM!

By doing this way, the collar came loose easy-peasy....makes me shake my head at how I struggled and failed before to loosen this collar.  Sigh.

Anyways, the seal replacement went smoothly with the 35mm socket I'd purchased back in Denver being used to seat the seal.

Everything went back together with no issues.  A short test ride within the campsite verified nothing fell off, tomorrow will be a longer ride to test whether the final drive still leaks or not.

 Uma on the left and RichardM's Fifth Wheel and truck
on the right.

Tonight's sunset was nothing to write home about, in fact, RichardM jokingly said that all my previous Arizona sunset pictures were just photoshop works!  :)

Just for fun and to prove you can't trust any digital imagery these days:

I removed via Lightroom tools, all the RVs and objects
showing in the previous pics.

Internet access at the La Paz campsite is quite slow.   I think there's just too many users trying to get on the internet all the time.  Very high latency: almost 500ms on average which of course means very slow download speeds ( < 1mbps) and upload speeds up to 3mbps with weBoost showing 4 bars 4G LTE!  

I may move in a day or so further south, staying within visiting distance of RichardM and Bridget but away from all the other RV'ers and their use of limited cellular resources.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Days 54 -56: A Wedding in Denver, and now back in Arizona

Friday, Jan 18.

Didn't get much riding done, wasn't feeling it I guess.  The weather wasn't great, light snow and snow-covered streets.  I had ridden Fiona to the auto parts store to get a 35mm socket wrench that I will be using to seat the replacement oil seal for Scarlett's leaking final drive.

Saturday, Jan 19.

Today was Eric L's and Danielle F.'s wedding day at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver.   It was a lot of fun seeing all of Eric's daughters together in one place again, they'd all babysat Things 1 and 2 at one time or another as they grew up.

Martha with the massive glass chandelier
that overhands the main lobby of the 
Brown Palace Hotel

Sunday, Jan 20:

Flew back to Phoenix, AZ this afternoon.  The flight didn't suck like the last flight, still hated it but I wasn't thinking homicidal thoughts this time.

one last view of Colorado

Got picked up by my FIL and after we got to his place, I got the URRV all ready for movement, got the water tank filled up and left.

It was late afternoon so I didn't get very far before I stopped for the night at a camping area located in State Trust land south of Congress, AZ.

I'd managed to forget my regular camera at home, dammit, so all I had was the iphone for today's pics.  The pics were extremely grainy of course as I didn't have a tripod for long exposures and not sure the iphone camera can do those anyways.

So I applied a "water color" filter to soften things up.

I hope to have my regular camera back by the end of this week, Martha is sending it to me via my FIL's home.

Tomorrow, back to the Quartzsite area to meet with RichardM and Bridget.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 53: Colorado Interlude: Back in Centennial

Thursday, Jan 17:

Flew home from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix yesterday evening.

Southwest Airlines flight was delayed, which did allow for this viewing of the sunset from Terminal 4:

The flight itself, in spite of the regular dose of Xanax I had for flights, sucked as usual.

Packed to the gills, asshole next to me with of course no concept of personal space, and shitheads in the baggage retrieval area and enroute to the the departures area.

By the time Martha and Patrick picked me up, which was very shortly after I notified them I was ready, I was in a really foul mood.

I think I'll double the Xanax dosage for the return trip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 52: Back in Sun City

Left the boondocking site near the Painted Rock Petroglyph campground today just before noon.  I should probably have waited a bit longer for the water that fell yesterday to dry up.

Getting out of the site was no problem, there was a layer of rock laid on top of the sandy ground.

The dirt road leading back to the campground was another story.  I could feel the wheels wiggling a bit in the softer spots that "looked OK" but the worst parts were the large puddles.

Some of them were wide enough, long enough, that I couldn't avoid them with the URRV!  Imagine Uma plowing at moderate speed through these....water being thrown up the sides and really soaking poor Scarlett in the trailer.

I didn't even try going dead slow through the puddles to avoid splash back; I figured I had a better chance with momentum in case I got a really soft spot hidden under the water.

The puddles stopped shortly before I reached the campground and all was well from that point on.

Dumped tanks at a Loves Travel Stop but didn't get gas there.  There was a sketchy looking white guy in dreadlocks with an old RV, bumming gas from folks who had pulled up to fill up their cars. 

Got propane and gasoline before I arrived at my FIL's place in Sun City and parked the URRV where she'll sit until Sunday when I return from Denver.

I'm flying there tomorrow evening to attend a family friend's wedding on Saturday.

Got my Xanax ready, dreading the flight.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Days 50 & 51 An Unlisted BLM site and Rain

Monday, JAN 14

Decided the Painted Rock Petroglyph had become a bit crowded for me as more RVs had taken up residence.

During Sunday's riding, I'd found some seemingly suitable spots along Rocky Point Road, on BLM land (according the map provided by with good cell signal.

I packed up Uma the URRV and dragging Scarlett along on her trailer, we left the campground and found us a good spot perhaps 5-6 miles west on Rocky Point Road.

 Looking east, you can see the hills near the
Petroglyph Campground 

 Southern ridgeline, part of Oatman Mountain

Looking southwest.....incoming weather blocking
one's view of the sunset

Tuesday, Jan 15:

Rain started last night, very light rain.  It would rain pretty much all morning, sometimes heavier, mostly sprinkling.  

Rocky Point Road seems fine, though its borders are mushy.

We had a pretty good sunrise though, in spite of the rainy weather:

It rained on and off most of the day, finally the skies cleared just before sunset...hopefully things dry out enough so that I can drive the URRV to Sun City tomorrow to my FIL's place.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 49: Uraling along Rocky Point Road

Today's riding involved exploring the trails around the campground.

Not much to report, I kept encountering either "no motorized travel" signs or private property signs and ended up turning back.

 Looking west from near the campground, that't
Oatman Mountain on the right.

I decided to head west, along Rocky Point Road, past the turn off for Oatman Mountain I'd explored earlier.

Went as far as 17 miles, to Hyder Road where it parallels a railroad track that was marked as "out of service".  Not much out there but did find several BLM sites that could be used for boondocking.  Good signal but really not much else around; but if solitude is the goal, I know the spots.

 I liked the varied hues in the distant peaks

As I retraced my route, now heading east on Rocky Point Road, I stopped to take a closer look at some structures on top of mountain that had caught my eye on the way out:

Note the buildings on top, it peaked my curiousity.

Google Maps showed the road as named: Government Road.  Interesting.  My mind wondered what kind of secret government installation would be up there....

The truth, as I approached the inevitable gate, was much less exciting.

That mystery solved, I continued eastward, noting possible BLM boondocking sites along the way and checking cellular signal coverage.  As they were all in the shadow of Oatman Mountain with its forest of antennae, they all showed strong 4G signal.

Tonight's sunset was very mild:

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Southwestern Sojourn - Day 48: Gila Bend Museum and other sights

This morning, I rode Scarlett the 25 miles or so to the nearby highway junction town of Gila Bend after a pretty good sunrise:

The town, as I understand it, has basically been the junction point of travel technologies over the history of the region.  From wagons, to trains, and now auto highways, Gila Bend, has functioned as a meeting point.

I got some groceries and then toured the museum at the city's visitor center.

It's a small museum, basically contained in one large room that is part of the city's administration center/city hall.

Still, while a bit cluttered, it did answer some questions for me:

I'd never heard/read of the Gadsen Purchase, similar to the purchase of Alaska from the Russians, it was a way for the US to acquire additional lands from Mexico for a small amount of money.

I'd always thought the present borders were the result of the war with Mexico, apparently not.

I'd mentioned the wagons that settlers used to cross the country, all part of the "Manifest Destiny" vision....with all its bad parts and good as cultures clashed.

So, in case you ever wonder, in your readings of those times, what the difference is between Conestoga and Prairie Schooner wagons:

A pic of old telegraph keys, for RichardM:

I was unsure what the purpose was for this display as it displayed items from differing eras.

There was apparently, the Oatman Incident, somewhat explained below.  I had been wondering why the nearby mountain was called Oatman Mountain.  I wonder also if the below was also involved with the naming of the town of Oatman which Martha and I visited before.

 Rather strange and striking, the 
chin tattoo inflicted on her by her captors

There were a few historical photos as well, showing life back in the day, here's what must have been called "Glamping" back then:

Another historical item that is mentioned around the area, is the Mormon Battalion.  There was a brief mention of them and their purpose. 

The battle of the Bulls was something new to me, so I looked it up:  LINK

Leaving the museum, I stopped by the Solana Generating Plant, a solar energy concern on the road leading to the campsite.  Unlike other solar farms I've seen elsewhere, there were using some different tech to collect sunlight:

There's a road called Sisson Road on the way back to the campsite.  I motored down it to see what was there.  Not much, but eventually the road is bordered by a canal of sorts which feeds into irrigation canals used by the local citrus farms.

As I neared the water, I scared up into flight a bunch of white birds with the sound of Scarlett's engine.

I was surprised, and stopped to get these pics of one of the birds.  Egret?

The rest of the day was spent at the campsite, clouds moved in quickly and the forecasted rain is falling as I type these words.  Supposed to only have a .06" accumulation but this campsite won't be affected in terms of mud/traction even if it turns out to be more accumulation.

The clouds of course prevented any views of the sunset.