Sunday, November 20, 2022

Speedo Needle Gone and a Less Hazy Day's Views of Mount Evans

 Things have warmed up nicely here on the Colorado Front Range, today's high is projected to be 51°F.  Positively balmy weather.

Back during Friday's riding, the needle on Scarlett's speedometer had come off the center pivot point.  I figured it had just loosened from a repair I'd done about 5 years ago during a different ride.

However, yesterday after closer examination, it wasn't the needle that was broken again but the stem on which it rides and rotates under the influence of the speedometer cable's rotation.  Dammit.

I didn't want to replace the speedometer, given the limited amount of riding I do these days; that and being a cheap bastich.  (See movie "Johnny Dangerously")

After some searching, I found the Ram X-Mount for mobile phones, and the Ram extension to couple said mount to Scarlett's handlebar.

Why upside down, the mount, you wonder.  The mount rotates slight to the right when underway, so by mounting it as shown above it'll end up straight up/down to satisfy my OCD ways.


A speedometer app later, I had a speedometer again.  The OEM unit will continue functioning as an odometer and tripmeter.  A test drive showed it secure and steady, but the mount comes with an elastic square suitable for further securing the phone if needed.

Today, Sunday, the weather having warmed up as it did, it was time for further test riding with the phone mount in place.  I drove over to the RV storage yard and after clearing the small amount of snow off the roof; set up the 100W solar panel to keep the house battery charged up while in storage.  The small 1.5W panel I'd been using before proved worthless.

That chore complete, I went over to Cabelas to pick up an online order and do some further testing of the phone mount by using Google Maps to get to the store.  No issues, very visible and Google Maps shows one's speed alongside the posted speed limit, so it's very handy.

Pickup done, I wandered back to the Rocking Horse neighborhood for views of Mount Evans as it was a much clearer day today than Friday.



These peaks are not part of Mt Evans


I actually had to remove a layer since it got some warm!  The grip covers let me riding initially with summer gloves; then without gloves for the return trip home.

I'm quite satisfied with the performance of the X-Mount from Ram so far, we'll see how it does in the long run.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Out in the Snow for Broccoli

 Starting yesterday afternoon, it snowed on us again in the cesspool that is the Metro Denver area.  I would say we got 2-3" of the white stuff by this morning.

I finished clearing up the snow where Martha had started moving snow out of the driveway in order to get her car out without compacting snow onto the driveway with her car's tires.

Then, chores almost done, it was time to ride over to the library to pick up some books.  The library wasn't open yet, so instead I went over to the area near the Blackstone Country Club neighborhoods to see what the usual spots offered.

That area got perhaps 3-4" of snow but the roads had been traversed already by this time so no pristine stuff to speak of.  Still, even hazy as it was, the views weren't terrible:



You see what I mean by hazy...usually you'd see Mount Evans in the distance, but not this morning.  The temperatures had been in the high single digits when I left home but had soared into the low 20s by the time the riding finished.

I returned towards the library using Smoky Hill Road.  The road is slightly sloping heading towards the turn one takes to go to the library, had a momentary "moment of concern" when the rig slid a bit started slowing down prior to turning.  Smoky Hill Road was thinly snow covered at this point you see, but no issues arose even though I overshot the turn point by a few feet.

Still, the library wasn't open!  So, retraced my steps to the nearby grocery store to fetch the broccoli Martha had tasked me with for dinner.  By the time I got out of the store, it was almost time for the library to open and I got there in time to see the doors open for the small crowd outside that had been waiting.

Books retrieved, made my way back home via neighborhood roads.  All chores now done, time to relax and read a book!

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

A Perk for U.S. Military Veterans

I just found out about a new pass now available from the USGS:

Excerpt from the USGS website page:

The Interagency Military Pass has been part of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series since 2012. On December 27, 2021, President Biden signed into law S. 1605 “The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022” (NDAA). Section 641 of the NDAA makes Gold Star families and veterans eligible for lifetime passes to federal recreational lands. The Interagency Military-Lifetime Pass can be issued to Gold Star families and U.S. military veterans.

Here's a link to the specific page on the USGS website for this particular pass:  LINK

The pass Covers entrance fees at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service sites and covers Standard Amenity Fees at Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation sites, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sites.

Admits the pass owner and any accompanying passengers in a private, non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas, or the pass owner and up to additional 3 adults (16 and over) at sites that charge per person.

The above is a pretty good benefit for Veterans, it will cost you $10 (processing and verification fees) at the USGS site but if you use it, should save you quite a few dollars...especially at the National Parks!

I went ahead and applied for the card even though I have the Disability Access version of the America the Beautiful Passes:


I believe, given my read of the USGS webpage, that my existing card is fine for all access granted by the Veteran version but given that we're talking multiple Federal agencies....I figured one or the other would cover things.

The additional benefit of the Disability version pass is 1/2 off the camping fees at BLM, COE, National Parks and USFS campgrounds.  So, if you are a disabled Veteran, get this card...you earned it.

Update: November 16: Received my pass in the mail today.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Tree Removal Highlights Unnoticed Fall Colors

I have apparently become quite remiss in keeping track of what's going on in the backyard of my home.  Trevor had actually pointed out to me the dead tree this summer and we'd arranged to remove it next time I was home from camping.

This past weekend, my neighbor Trevor, his wife Nadine and a young friend of theirs helped me by cutting down and carting away a dead tree in my backyard.


After safely cutting the tree down, they cut it into manageable pieces and removed them to a pile next door on their property.  They've a mobile fire pit and the tree will be future fuel for evening fires.  What a good pair of neighbors eh?

As I was standing there, out of the way, watching them cut the tree down, I noticed how the sun was nicely highlighting the trees above.  Hmmm.

Today, I went outside while the sun was behind the tress and got this:


Not too shabby eh?

For the record, I installed a new MaxxAir Vent Cover over the bathroom vent fan.


Installing it took me quite a while, it wasn't as easy as I had thought it'd be, locating the mounting holes correctly.  Still, it's done, I can now leave the bathroom's vent cover open during windy days and while traveling.

The VRRV roof, now with all vent covers in place:




Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Sealing the Dicor sealant with Eternabond Tape

You are supposed to, I believe on at least a yearly basis, inspect and reseal as needed the Dicor sealant used on a RV's roof to seal up holes were items have been mounted such as vent covers, ladder mount, antennas and TV masts.

Today I spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon applying Eternabond Tape and covering all of the Dicor sealant already up on the roof of the VRRV.  This was after cleaning up all the Dicor sealant the day before.

The weather was a bit cool but mostly sunny.  Thanks to advice from RichardM, I used a hair dryer to warm things up on the tape and the RV roof so that it would bond nicely.

Then it was just a matter of measure, cut, fit and apply.  The tape is quite sticky so you better get it right the first time or you will get some wrinkles.  I of course, got wrinkles, but nothing major and it should seal up regardless.

On the long edges, I had to do it in sections, as the tape can be a bit unwieldy to manage and not get stuck too parts that one does not want taped!

Not only did I cover all the openings that had been sealed with Dicor, but I went ahead and also did the side and rear edges of the roof as well as the Dicor-sealed joining with the front cab plastic housing.

I had removed the plastic covers on two of the vent covers before cleaning off all the dirt and such from the existing Dicor sealant.  

Front Half of Roof....the only cover I didn't
remove was the one for the AC unit.

The Rear Half, I think I'm going to get 
an additional cover for the beige-colored cover
for the bathroom.

In the picture above, you can see the exposed screen section of the vent used by the refrigerator propane burner which heats up the chemical which produces the cooling effect for the fridge.  It's the one that was damaged two or trips ago, and whose cover I now wire in place instead of the screws it came with.


Not really hard work, just a lot of kneeling on the roof....forgot to deploy the kneepad cushion initially and then I just kept going.  Lots of climbing up and down the extendable ladder since I was keeping the tape rolls inside where it was warm initially.

Hopefully, the tape has sealed up nicely to the dicor and roof, I'll inspect it tomorrow morning before I return the VRRV to the storage yard.

Once it's warmer weather or I'm in Arizona in January, I might apply a bead of Dicor sealant on the edges of the tape per RichardM's recommendation.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Recovery Tracks for Umarang and Reducing Dump Tube Snag Hazard

I'd recently encountered rocky trail conditions that had looked so bad that I chose to not try them with the VRRV.  This of course is the reason I do a recce on Yagi, my TW200, when I don't know if the road conditions are good enough.

This led to me camping somewhere where there were too many neighboring campers, groups of noise OHV swine, and one over-revving imbecile.

Sometimes, avoiding the sketchy terrain sections, doesn't work out great in other ways.  So, I figured  there might be an option for temporary terrain aids when options are limited.

I initially looked into thick rubber mats to use as "padding" or "build up" bits where trail conditions might be too rough for the VRRV.

I went through the gamut from fancy $60/apiece (if you buy 4) rubber blocks used for ramps and stops in construction areas:

source: Vodaland

To perhaps obtaining, then cutting up, a used large truck tire, into sections similar in dimensions to the above mats.  

Then, I remembered something.  Back when I had purchased the Sammy, I had bought for it all kinds of recovery gear and such for anticipated off road 4x4 adventures.

One of the items bought was a pair of Recovery Tracks made by X-Bull, and supposed to hold up to 10 tons on flat ground.


I never got the Sammy stuck so never had an occasion to try the above tracks out.  

So I got them out of storage and first tried rolling the rear tire of Martha's CRV on top.  Before I did, I put a couple of wood blocks to create a gap.  I wanted to see how the track would bend:



As you can see, it bends but still supported the weight of the CRV's left rear quarter.  I don't think the lowest portion was touching the ground!

Then it was the VRRV's turn for testing.  This time I put the tracks to span the sidewalk bump that leads to my driveway.  I supported both sides with a wooden block and it did fine, hardly even bent.

First, the left front tire:



As you can see, no problems supporting the front tire as the front of the VRRV has under 3900 lbs. when fully loaded.

This time I left the left side intentionally unsupported to see if it could take the weight and rolled the VRRV's inner dually tire onto the track.  The dually axle supports a weight of 8080 lbs. when the VRRV is fully loaded.

For the brief periods I intend to use these tracks in spanning rough spots, I figure having the outer dually tire "hanging" will be fine.


Here's a short video on how it did with the dually tire rolling onto it.  As you might imagine, putting wooden blocks in the gap area will help ensure weight isn't an issue.  


So, the recovery tracks are now part of the loadout for the VRRV.  The idea is still to try and avoid sketchy terrain conditions if possible, but having the option to "go for it" is nice to have.




I'm thinking having some kind of anchoring stakes to keep the tracks from moving while under load will be a good thing.

Another hazard of taking the VRRV into off road conditions, is that sometimes there's vegetation right on the edge of the trail.  Vegetation that could snag the cap of the dump tube and rip it off.  I don't really mind losing the cap, but it could also in turn rip up the tube's valve assembly and that would shitty.  Literally.

The dump tube and the cap it came to me with, 
the extended handle used to provide good turning access.

Note the gray narrow tube closer to you, that's the gray water valve handle.  The handle portion disappeared sometime in the last camping trip.  It used to also stick out a bit from the underside of the VRRV!  Still functional luckily, so missing the handle is no big deal.

Sticks out enough to snag something under very
narrow trail conditions.

In the above picture, you might be thinking that it's not that far out, the dump tube cover.  If you look forward of it a bit, you can see the generator's exhaust pipe....also not sticking out so much.  I have though, managed to snag that pipe before, resulting it it being bent back!  I recall moving over to the left side of the trail, to avoid large ruts on the right side; so I had the VRRV's left flank brushing the bushes!

New cap in place, hopefully less chance of snagging.

I had toyed with the idea of moving the dump tube up more but because of the way the gray water dump tube mates to it, it would have been very difficult if not impossible.

As it is now, it's got 14" of ground clearance and is right behind the left rear tires, so it should be fine that way.  Other parts of the VRRV's underside will be scraping long before this does!  It will also mean, I failed in my recce of the route and will have to pay the piper.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A Ride for Brigitta while Enjoying Neighborhood Fall Colors

The time for Fall Colors is actually a couple of days or so past peak for my home neighborhood trees to display their Fall Colors.

I had decided to finally get Brigitta out of the garage and get some exercise.  My departure was delayed when she expressed her displeasure at not being out since September 4 however.

Yep, she leaked gas from her right side carburetor onto the garage floor as I readied her for riding and got my riding gear on!

Tried new cork seals, that didn't work, still leaking.

Tried doubling up of the seals, still leaking.  Finally figured out it wasn't the seals for the fuel bowl, but it was coming from a overfill tube in the bowl.  I then used some needle nose pliers and bent the metal tab for the floats a tiny bit downward.  

That seemed to do the trick and I went riding.

The first two pics were taken with RichardM's comment in mind that Fall Colors should be more than just yellow.  So here you go, RichardM.



Of course, the rest will be of the yellow variety:



So what do you think?  Landscape or Portrait format better with the below scene?



I only rode perhaps 12 miles, more tomorrow.  No further fuel leaks from the right side carburetor.  Hopefully, Brigitta has finished showing her displeasure at me.


Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Back Home for a bit....

Been back home since Sunday, getting used to being under a house's roof once more.  

Having plenty of hot water for showers is very nice.  Martha's cooking is reminding me that weight gain is in my future if I don't watch it.

Finally got around to finding a better ground point for the backup camera. Now, instead of using the same ground as the brake lights which caused the display to blink in sync with turn signals and brake light usage; I use the ground for the porch light.  The camera still gets power from the same circuit as the driving lights so the camera is powered whenever the lights are.

Added some storage to the VRRV, no more of this way of storing bottles/cans of consumables:




I've only done one short drive with the above setup, it held up just fine but does have a tendency to oscillate away from the wall, so I'll have to secure it somehow.  I'm quite happy with how it neatens up the area though.

I'm toying with the idea of raising the below dump tube for the black and gray water tanks if possible.  I'm waiting on a neighborhood friend who is a master plumber to take a look.  If doable, I'll of course have to cut a hole on the side of the VRRV so the end can poke through.

Why?  This is one of three low-hanging objects under the VRRV, the others are the exhaust pipe for the onboard 4KW generator (I think that'll be easy) and the exhaust pipe for the engine.  This one though, has very dire and messy consequences if it ever gets knocked off!


Thing One seems happy to see me at home, not sure the cat cares though:


After discussion with my financials guy at Edward Jones, I've filed for Social Security Retirement.  I went to the local office to drop off some corroborating documentation and when leaving saw this:


Sungard, was one of the places I worked as a Senior Network Engineer.  Though I did meet a couple of close friends there that I still keep in touch with; we all thought of working for Sungard as one of the levels of Hell!

I'm hoping the sight above is not an omen of bad things to come in terms of the bureaucracy of the SSA.

One of the reasons I cut my camping trip short was because Umarang, the VRRV, was due emissions testing before I could renew her licence tags.  It's every two years here in the cesspool that is Metro Denver and I'd forgotten to allow for that before departing for camping.

Uma in Lane 3, used for large vehicles and 4x4s with
very large tires apparently.

Spent an hour there, mostly waiting in line, and I'm happy to report she passed emissions!  Yay.

The last two times I was at this facility, was with the Sammy, and she failed emissions both times.  She now lives in NM under the care of a guru: MikeW who'll take care of her from this point onwards.  No emissions testing required where MikeW lives so bonus!

After passing emissions (see what I did there?), I took Uma over to the RV Storage Yard and left her there until the next camping trip.  

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Skyline Drive and then The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As the Fremont county search and rescue people were getting organized for the training of the day near my campsite, I headed out towards CaƱon City.  No sense hanging around camp with that many people wandering around.



Almost stepped on this guy...

Cue the Good, Bad and Ugly Song: LINK

I returned to camp around noon, found the SAR people winding things down.  After lunch I was able to enjoy perhaps an hour or two of blissful silence, sunny weather and almost no people.

That was the Good.

Next came the Bad, unseen by me since I was at nearby Skyline Drive,  several trucks had brought in eight large SBSs, all tarted up with big LED light sticks, flags and bonus: very loud music speakers.

The first I knew of them was of a large motorized noise coming to the camping area from the back end of the boondocking area.

A big convoy, loud engines roaring, moving slow good within a large cloud of dust, and the deep bass sounds emanating for all of us to "enjoy".

They all gathered around a travel trailer at the far end of the RV camping area where a canopy had been set up next to a barbecue.  The music continued of course as they ate and mingled.  Sometimes the more restless among them, would get in their SBS and do circles within the parking area, stirring up the dust.  

After a couple hours they left, again in the noisy convoy and headed back into the more remote areas. I thought they were going back to their camping area.

I was wrong, they would return later in the dark and pack up all their SBSs onto the trailers, but not before treating all of us in the camping area to a vivid display of bright flashing LED lights and of course a lot music.

Eventually they left, finally.

Here's the Ugly:

Doing the afternoon, I saw this particular SBS rip-roaring his way up and down the main trail at high speed.  He was making his best effort to over-rev his engine, and bring the front end of his vehicle up, I guess compensating for something.

The kind of misbehavior that basically destroys these trails and leaves them just rocky outcroppings for the rest of us to enjoy.  

Up and down the trail the mouth breather drove for perhaps an hour, disappearing for minutes at a time into the hinterlands.  Then the mouth breather finally went up to his trailer loaded up and headed on out.

There you have it the good, the bad and the ugly.  

The main access road has gotten very bad into this area so it probably will be a very long time before I ever return to camp here; not to mention all the side "benefits" of assholes in SBS's adding to the ambience.

A quote comes to mind:

I used to be a people person, until people ruined it for me.

Note to self: if ever deciding to change your mind about returning to this place, remember the plethora of sketchy looking car campers.

Sunday, Oct 16: Back home for a while.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Now Boondocking in the Penrose BLM Area

I'd had enough of the cold weather at 9200 feet and so this morning I broke camp and I was heading out of the Poncha Pass area by 9:30 AM.  

By Noon, I was in the Penrose BLM area and setting up camp.  The road into the area has gotten really bad, and the one leading to my usual preferred spot was even worse!

I ended up in a different area adjacent to the parking area for RVs that I usually skip.  Took me an hour to maneuver the VRRV to a site that was somewhat level, and still it took quite a bit to get her level.


I was seeking warmth and I found it! It was over 80° at 4:00 p.m. with a forecasted low of 42° here while at the Poncha Pass site it was 56° with a forecasted low of 32°. Amazing what a difference of 3300 feet and altitude will do.

Didn't get any riding done with the exception of using Yagi to scout out possible camping locations.  

Tomorrow, the Fremont Search and Rescue organization is going to be conducting training in the immediate area so it will be a good time to be away.  I'm thinking a visit to the old standby location: Skyline Drive.

Clear skies tonight: