Saturday, December 31, 2022

Happy New Year!

 Here's hoping you and yours have a Happy New Year, full of adventures and prosperity.  I, for one, am glad to leave 2022 behind.

Speaking of which, a compilation of pictures taken during 2022.  It's less than 4 minutes long and hopefully you'll enjoy seeing the pictures again.


Brigitta Ending: 102729 miles = 918 miles or a +34% to last year's ending miles: 101811

Scarlett Ending: 72703 km = 4141 km/2484 miles which is a +6% over last year's 68652 km ending total.

Yagi: Ending: 17861 miles = 2575 miles which is +15% over last year's 15286 ending miles.

Total Moto miles: 5977 vs 3556 last year, or a + 41% increase. (Still not great)

Uma: ending at 89194 miles = 8330 miles, 2634 miles less than last year or 90% of last year's 80864 miles 

Camping 168 days or -23% of last year's 216 days

Friday, December 30, 2022

A Visit to the Space History Museum, Alamagordo, NM

Martha and I went with Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol, back to White Sands N.P. to check out the boardwalk trail.  It was, IMO, meh.  Too close or within the area that is rapidly being covered with sage brush and other desert vegetation.  

After that, we meandered further into the park hoping for a photo op spot with Scarlett.  The sand wasn't as white as yesterday, due to it having rained overnight, still:

In the afternoon, after lunch, we again took the VRRV into town to check out the Space History Museum.  Quite a nice museum, nicely laid out with the usual assortment of rocket-related hardware, historic photographs and displays of rockets and missiles comprising the history of space exploration.

What I ended up taking pictures of wasn't quite as scientific exploration and discovery.

A Russian Space Suit, so what
you ask?

One of the floors of the museum was pretty much dedicated to the Star Trek franchise.  This included a mock up of the transported room on the USS Enterprise:

Lori and Chris

The elevators did have some nice decorating motifs:

We ran some errands about town after the museum and then headed on back to camp.  During some relaxing before dinner, I started work on removing the corrosion off the positive battery terminal on the VRRV's house battery.

The baking soda/water solution foamed up quite nicely as it worked to clean off the corrosion:

Chris Z. provided a nice cutter for the thick wire and a swaging tool for the new eyelets I purchased in town.  I cut off the corroded end, cleaned it some more, then crimped on the new eyelet end.  Should prevent any "loose connection" problems I'd experienced before.

A German couple with a Steyr LMTV rig had parked near us and they came by to chat for a bit.  They'd shipped their rig from Hamburg to Canada and spent months exploring Canada and were working their way from the northwest coast to Texas.


The rest of the evening was spent staring into a nice fire and chatting with Lori and Chris.

video courtesy of Lori Z.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

A Drive to White Sands National Park and the World's Largest Pistachio

Most of yesterday, Wednesday, was spent troubleshooting why the lights on the trailer weren't working.  We think it was a combination of a bad ground (corrosion) and a blown fuse.  Something of a mystery too, a fuse was missing, and when replaced restored the riding lights to the trailer.  Weird, Chris Z. thinks its a grounding issue.  He definitely wasn't impressed with where Ford put the grounding blocks right behind the left dually tires.

Yesterday evening, we had ourselves a fun time playing a card game called "Play Nine".  It's got a golf motif of sorts, lots of chance built-in and some strategic thinking involved.  It got much more fun and at times hilarious as mistakes were made by each of us due to some "alcoholic influence".

Chris attempting to explain a game blunder I think...
for which Lori was the beneficiary
photo courtesy of Martha

Suffice to say, enough alcohol was consumed that tonight it wasn't nearly as hilarious as we played some more of Play Nine.  Tonight just a few sips of wine.

We spent some of the day visiting the nearby (3 miles) White Sands National Park, using the URRV as the transport for all four of us.

We used my Veteran's Access Pass from the National Park Service and proceeded on towards the furthest point reachable via the loop road amongst the dunes.

photo courtesy of Martha

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

photo courtesy of Lori Z.

Lunch was at a Mexican restaurant in the city of Alamogordo, very yummy.

Afterwards, a short visit to the world's largest Pistachio Nut was in order:

photo courtesy of Chris Z.

We returned to camp to rest away the rest of the afternoon.  We hosted the Z's for dinner and then played cards for a bit.  Definitely not as hilarious without the alcohol though it was still fun.

Here's the sunset we got tonight, just before dinner was served:

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

A Visit from my Sammy Guru....

Mike and his lovely wife Laura W. Came by our campsite this morning, having driven all the way from Truth or Consequences!  A bit over 120 miles!

Mike, Laura, Martha and I

They showed up as I was taking off the Ural Patrol's seat in order to access what I thought was a failed battery.

Mike W. took a look and said to clean and check the battery connectors as they were quite dirty. 

He explained that corroded/dirty connections would prevent the Patrol's alternator from charging up the battery; eventually leading to a dead battery!

I had been wrong in trusting my battery charger at home which has reported a full charge before the trip!

All this I thought it was a failing starter, now not so sure.

He removed the battery, cleaning connectors to bare metal, and we then put the battery in a charger while we visited.

A couple of hours later, the battery was charged up again and I was able to start the engine on the Patrol with the battery unmounted!  

Mike and Laura finished visiting and left at this point and Chris Z. helped me put the battery back in and secured.  I tried one more engine start and Scarlett cranked right up!

Mike W., yours truly and Chris Z.

We visited with Mike and Laura till about mid-afternoon, everyone enjoying the sharing of stories and adventures.

I learned that my battery maintenance procedures were "lacking", so I must do better.

In the evening, it was time for a camp fire after a sumptuous dinner of prime rib by Martha.

video courtesy of Lori Z.

video courtesy of Lori Z.

It was an early night for all of us, and the wind that came up as we sat by the fire encourage us to go inside.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Now in New Mexico....near White Sands N.P.

 We left the cesspool that is the Metro Denver area at 6AM and were safely boondocking near White Sands National Park by 5PM.

Long day of driving but worth it to spend the evening dining and drinking with our friends Chris and Lori Z!

Here's a pic of our rigs during the lovely sunset we arrived just in time to capture:

We'll be here all week...

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas from the Chang Gang here in Colorado!

The Polar Vortex is gone and the temperatures were in the high 40s!  Positively balmy!

I'll be publishing 2022, the year in pictures, on New Years Eve as usual.  Stay tuned.

We got this in Germany, a few years ago.  Yes, Santa looks a bit high but then again, we are in the Stoner State after all.  

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Uraling during the Polar Vortex ...

It was sunny but -14°F (-25°C) this morning as we in Colorado experienced the effects of the Polar Vortex.  This weather phenomenon, last seen in 1990 apparently according to local weather sources, brought us extremely cold temperatures.

After I had geared up, I went to start Scarlett, my 2014 Ural Patrol.  She wouldn't start, I thought perhaps the starter had finally given up the ghost after many attempts.  Instead I hooked up a car charger which I placed into jumpstart mode, and she fired right up.  I guess the battery was a bit weak?

Regardless, I moved out smartly and she ran fine during the 90 minutes or so I was out.  There was one occasion where she started making a "hooning" noise, like a moaning wind noise perhaps.  I stopped and the engine sounded fine as I revved it up and down while stopped.  The noise went away with a change in direction so perhaps it was the wind?

I drove over to the Rocking Horse neighborhood but no view of the mountains today due to haze and the Denver Brown Cloud.  So I drove back closer to home and got these pics instead.  

By this time, I was feeling a bit chilled and my toes were cold so I headed on home.  The temperatures had soared to -10°F (-23°C) at this point.

Traction was a bit iffy at times, and a couple of times I engaged 2WD in order to get moving after being stopped at snow covered traffic intersections.

The cold kept fogging up my eyeglasses and icing up with helmet's visor too.  I rode the last mile or so on the way home, without my glasses!

Still, not a bad outing overall.  I must add another layer the next time, as the cold was penetrating my insulated jeans in spite of my long underwear layer underneath.

So, -14°F (-25°C) remains my personal best in terms of lowest temperatures experienced while riding.  The last time I'd seen temperatures this cold was near Loveland Pass, several winters ago!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A New Storage Spot for the URRV - At the Buckley Space Force Base!

Space Force, still trying to get used to the fact the US has a Space Force...

Anyways, I'd recently found out there were open storage spots at the two RV Storage Lots within the confines of the Space Force Base (SFB).  After getting the paperwork squared away and giving notice at the previous storage site; I was ready to move today.

I got a 35' long spot, which should fit the URRV and attached trailer.  I left the trailer at home since the URRV won't be there long before we go camping next week.

The spot I was assigned is really close to the gate, with a nice wide area behind the URRV that I can use to back up whenever I decide to take it out of storage.  Even better, it's cheaper by $37 from the old storage yard for more space!

Security should be better, after all its inside the perimeter of a guarded SFB!  

Soon as I got Uma settled into storage, I geared up and rode Yagi, my TW200 out towards the main area of the SFB.  I stopped by the 140th Wing HQ for pictures of display aircraft:

Buckley is known for the "Golf Balls"

There were no visible information plaques for the aircraft but you should be able to recognize most of them.  The last one is a tribute, I think, back to WWII when Buckley was an US Army Air Force training facility.
Space Base?

I guess I'm still a bit amused by the new nomenclature used by the US Space Force....

It was in the low 40's as I rode home, the "Polar Vortex" is coming in a couple of days....some really cold temperatures are forecasted.  Could be quite interesting riding.

Luckily, I'd recently acquired a used National Cycle Plexistar 2 Windshield for Scarlett.  It's the same model as the one previously on Scarlett.  The old one had cracked due to me riding Scarlett on rough terrain with the windshield attached.  I plan on removing it whenever on rough terrain riding is expected.

This windshield should allow me to ride around the forecasted record low temperature this Thursday/Friday.  

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Setting Up the CR-V for Towing

As the time to Martha's retirement from full-time work is down to a matter of months now, it was time to get serious about setting up her Honda CR-V to be towed by Uma, the URRV.

I went ahead and ordered the tow plate (ITEM # C48FR $464) from and the ReadyBrake brake cable assembly (RB-011 $93) and break-away cable assembly (RS-5000 $129) to use along with existing components left over after the Sammy went away.

Yesterday, Saturday, it was a "joy-filled" 10+ hours of working to install the tow plate from Curt,  and also install the brake and breakaway cables from the front of the car to the driver's compartment.

Of course, I managed to break some of the brittle plastic fasteners that held the plastic bits to the car that had to be removed.  Let's just say, its not as easy as the video below made it look.  However, the video was quite helpful otherwise.

Here's the base plate that replaced the stock front bumper on the CR-V:

The unit is quite "beefy".  I wouldn't be surprised if it was stronger that the stock bumper.  
Stock bumper underneath the plastic fascia

Base plate installed

Some notes about the installation:

Removing and replacing the plastics, for me, were a PITA.  Since the car is over 8 years old, the plastic fasteners were quite brittle.  It also turned out, though similar looking, there were two distinct fasteners which I should have segregate according to location as I removed them.

Finding the location to drill holes in the driver compartment's firewall would prove quite difficult until I checked this video's example:

The point being, the holes are not directly behind the brake pedal arm, a bit offset but the cable still seemed to move fine within its protective sheathing.  More testing to follow of course.

Very difficult to see the opening in order to "fish" the cable end into the driver's compartment.  The engine and suspension components are in the way of one's eyes and movement for one's hand/arm is very constricted.

Fortunately for me, Bob W. was available to help with the tasks involved.  He's one of my neighborhood friends.  Installing the two cables would have been impossible for me alone.  But we got it done!

Meanwhile, his majesty the cat (Owen) reigned unconcerned by all this human activity and rests in comfort:

Today, during the afternoon, I drove over with Martha in the CR-V (from this point on to be known as the Toad) and we hooked it up to the RV using the Blue Ox tow bars we got with the Sammy.

I wanted to test the Blue Ox AutoStop device's ability to pull the brake pedal in the Toad when it detected via inertia and pressure that the RV's brakes were being applied.

The first test went "weird".  It was doing everything opposite of what I expected.  It would pull the wire, thereby pulling the brake pedal down in the Toad while moving forward with the RV!  

The expected behavior was that it would hang "slack" while the RV was moving, and then tighten up when brakes in the RV were applied thereby inducing the Toad to push forward under inertia.  Once the AutoStop detects this pressure, it reels in the wire that is connected to the ReadyBrake cable connected to the Toad's brake pedal, actuating the Toad's brakes to help stop the Toad.

So, as I was disassembling the setup to take it home to examine it for that weird behavior; when it occurred to me that I might have installed it upside down.  You see, I remembered that the manual states the preload adjustment setting on the Autostop should be on the driver's side when correctly installed, it wasn't.

So, I got it turned right-side up, and we tested again.  Lo and behold it seemed to work exactly as desired/expected.  Martha braked the moving RV (we were only going a few MPH) and I watched the ReadyBrake cable's end tighten up as everything came to a stop.

More testing to follow this week.  I was concentrating on the cable's movement so didn't see if the Toad's wheels locked when braking was applied.  Pretty sure it did, but I want to see it.

I also have to figure out how we managed to drain the battery as we did the testing!

As I was putting things away, Martha reported the CR-V not starting.  Dammit.  

After some hurried troubleshooting thinking the towing had broken things, Martha googled that perhaps the battery was shot even though I seeing the headlights light up.

So, we hooked up the jumper cables to the URRV and the Toad started right up!  Dammit.  So now I need to get the battery checked out and figure out the fuse to remove when in towing mode to prevent future battery draining while the Toad is being towed.  The manual states the fuse number, and RichardM commented I could install a bypass switch or simply disconnect the battery while towing.

More testing to follow as I mentioned but it's looking good so far!  My thanks once again for the ready input/feedback provided by RichardM as I tested and troubleshot.

Update: Dec 19

The CR-Vs battery was checked out by a tech at Autozone and pronounced healthy so draining it accidentally as we did yesterday did it no harm.

I've ordered a charging kit for the CRV (RM-156-25 $47) which will take power from the URRV and keep the Toad's battery topped off during towing operations.  Thanks to RichardM's feedback, will also get 20ft of 10AWG ($50) cable with SAE connectors to provide power to the charging kit.  No more worrying about removing fuses.

I've also ordered a 6" drop hitch (RM-076 $101) to lower the Autostop device so that it's level with the mounting points on the Toad.  You're not supposed to have more than 3" difference up/down from level.

After all the above is done, a simple two pole switch to bypass the wire leading from the brake pedal switch to the brake lights to avoid confusion when people following the Toad see steady brake lights but the magnetic tow lights on the roof are indicating turns.

Update:  Turns out I didn't need the drop hitch so I sent it back.  It's just fine with the existing hitch and brake assist: