Friday, May 31, 2024

Hanging Out at Camp and a Ride to the Lakes

Thursday, May 30

Pretty lazy day, spent mostly lounging and reading.

Campsite visitor

View from a nearby hill

Spooky shelter now surrounded by water.
This is near the campsite.

A view from a different hill, note the overcast skies

Found this dead hummingbird while doing
a police call (picking up litter)

I think the auto focus feature on my telephoto lens is wonky, all the long distance shots I've taken recently have come out blurry.  The chipmunk for instance.  

Update:  the lens assembly rattles, not a good sign.  

Friday, May 31

After breakfast, I replaced the original kitchen faucet (18 years old) with one I got from Amazon a while ago.  I'd been fighting sporadic small leaks if one didn't close the faucet handle with some force.

The task was easy, hardest part was snaking my arm under the counter holding the sink to get at the mounting fittings and water connections.

The rest of the morning was spent reading in the gazebo, it was a bit cool until perhaps 2PM or so.  Then the skies cleared somewhat and the sun warmed things up into the mid-60s!  

I rode out on Yagi, my TW200 to check out some of the lakes of the Red Feather Lakes area.

Dowdy Lake, above and below

Letitia Lake

Snake Lake

Parvin Lake

West and Twin Lake
(Martha and I had camped at the campground here before)

Starting to see more rigs and campers driving up and down the road, seeking a spot for the weekend I guess.  Luckily, I picked a small site so hopefully no one will show up asking to "share".

Another shot of the rear of the campsite, this time
under sunny conditions.

The original site I'd picked is now sporting three separate campsites all within shouting distance of each other.  Mine is "mo better".

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Relaxing while doing chores on the VRRV

Wednesday, May 29

A very nice and sunny morning leading to an overcast afternoon with gusting winds.  Got some major minor tasks done with a bit more riding of Yagi, my TW200 thrown in for good measure.

The gate to Deadman Road remains closed though I see work trucks go to and fro along the road leading to it.

As to the major minor tasks:

I finally figured out what was causing the water pump to cycle on and off for no apparent reason. It had started doing this in the previous camping trip and this time out I'd taken to turning the pump off when no using it. The sound of it cycling on/off unexpectedly was quite annoying to me.

As I sipped my coffee, I looked again at all the valves and connections.  No leaks that I could find which would cause pressure to drop and activate the pump however.  This time though, I spotted what looked like a air stem cap on top of the accumulator.  Hmmm.

The accumulator's role is to keep the water in the lines under pressure, to help move it when one opens a faucet.  I didn't know, until I read its manual, that you're supposed to check it's stored air pressure!   That's why there was a cap you see and I deployed a portable air compressor to fill it to 30 PSI as per the manual.

Once I got the pressure back to spec, no more unexpected cycling on/off by the water pump!  Success!

Another major minor task was figuring out why there seemed to be connectivity issues between the solar panels and the solar charge controller.  There's two 100 watt panels now you see, and its no longer a simple one-to-one connection as I combine the two panels into one charge controller.

I started off just twisting the wires together but this didn't lend itself to easy disconnects for storage and for sometimes using only one panel.  For example, only one is needed while the VRRV is in storage to keep the batteries topped off.

Enter this connector I found on Amazon:

Easy peasy to use and to connect/disconnect.  You just have to make sure no copper is exposed as the possibility of unwanted contact increases of course!  Now, when I just need one solar panel, I just disconnect the unneeded one by flipping the levers up as appropriate....

Finally, now that we're using Starlink for Internet access while camping, I'd had a slight worry (yep, I overthink things) of the darn dish being caught by wind gusts and flipped over, getting damaged.

I'm using a tent stake similar to the ones used by the gazebo, driving it into the ground first, leaving just enough room to slide the "dishy"'s flip stand under the hook.  I think it'll work just fine, and it's so low to the ground to start with....

No plans to mount it on the roof, I want to retain the flexibility of being able to move it around to clear obstructions like when camping in a forested area.

The riding with the TW200 was enjoyable in the sun.  I rode it on trails seeking high point area access for pictures; since this place is so forested.  I found a nice hill with boulders at the top that gave me this view of nearby houses:

Not a bad location for one's weekend house eh?

Finally, another shot of the campsite, showing where I'd moved the gazebo to get it somewhat out of the wind.

The skies turned only partly cloudy in the later afternoon, with warm sunshine somewhat offsetting the occasional gusty winds.

I walked over to a nearby copse of Aspen for this shot:

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

OTRA: On The Road Again

I left the overcrowded cesspool that is the Denver metro area, and took the long way north towards Fort Collins. 

The city of Fort Collins has become quite crowded too it seems.  Fortunately, I did not have to go deep into it to get onto Colorado Highway 14 and westward towards Red Feather Lakes area.

Google maps proved to be more of a hindrance than the aid in trying to get me to the spot I had stayed in before on DeadMan Road off of County Road 86.

In the end, and because I had not conducted a good map reconnaissance, I discovered that Deadman Road is closed seasonally from December to July, doh!

No worries though, I found myself a nice spot before the gate area and set up camp. 

As you can see, it was quite cloudy and the sun was not abundantly available.  Still I got enough sun to charge up the house battery and run the Starlink system once.  Cell signal is weak and slow for the spot. 

I did a short ride exploring the area around the campsite to see what neighbors I had. I only found one tent camper nearby and a fifth wheel setup near the closed gate. 

I also found that some guy had decided to use the forest as a storage area for his pop-up trailer: 

Annoying, don't you think?

More riding under less cloudy skies tomorrow hopefully. 

The second time I went to use starlink, I was unable to connect though I tried several reboots.  

Finally I got a notice on the starlink app saying there was a service outage and that they were working on it. I guess I will try tomorrow morning and see if they fixed it.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Back in Colorado

We got back home on Wednesday, May 15 after 8 hours on the road.  No issues during the drive, just boring and tiring.  I like keeping the mileage covered in one day to 300, but alas, we were close and both of us had, 478 miles it was.

Colorado welcomed us with the aftermath of a hail storm while we were transiting through Colorado Spring.  

Of course, it was bright and sunny just a few minutes later once we'd cleared the city limits on our way north to the overcrowded cesspool that is the Metro Denver area.

A few days to unload, clean and prep the VRRV for storage and then the tackling of home chores for a bit.  Martha tells me I've been camping 69% of the year so far.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Boondocking East of Albuquerque and a Visit to Madrid

Monday, May 13

We left the Petrified Forest National Park early yesterday morning, around 7AM, ready to move further east along the I-40 Super Slab.

By 1PM we'd arrived in the vicinity of the Cedro Peak Loop Road.  We encountered way too rough of terrain conditions trying to get on the loop in a clock-wise direction to explore for campsites.

We disconnected the CR-V and gingerly made our way back onto Juan Tomas Road and found the right access forest road 522.  Just past the group campground, we found a spot along the access trail.  

Had we gone just a few more feet up this road away from the tower hill, we would have found a campground!  The sites were pretty small, as USFS sites tend to be, but there were a couple I could have squeezed Uma into with some effort.

As it was, we set up at the right spot in the end.  We rested the rest of the afternoon away, and got over the panic we'd experienced at the beginning of the loop road!  Don't take the FR542, use FR252 which takes you to the Sabino Canyon Trailhead and the Group Campground.

Of course, with the cell tower located in the hill nearby, there was plenty of cellular internet signal to be used.  It figures, I get the Starlink system and then the next few sites I don't need it.  The time will come though.

Tuesday, May 14

Since it was close by, we drove the Honda CR-V to the town of Madrid, NM.  This town was featured in the movie "Wild Hogs", which I liked a lot.  Madrid is a small "artist-oriented" town.  

A nice gate I saw...

Here's the boarding house (in reality a Mercantile Store) used in the Wild Hogs movie.

The main Wild Hogs location, built by the movie and left to the town.  The town brought it up to code and turned it into a Wild Hogs souvenir store.

I found this site with a great recap of film locations used in Wild Hogs:  LINK
It's got some more Madrid-specific info.

Another Madrid location used in film, this one in the Netflix series "Longmire", another favorite of ours.  The interior of the bar is used as the "Red Pony" Saloon in the series.  We didn't go in, it wasn't going to be open till 11AM and we were "done touring" before then:

Interesting car, sadly non-functional

Quite the decor at the restaurant near the Mine Shaft Tavern

There was, of course, a Cannabis dispensary

Madrid was preparing for their Crawdaddy Blues Festival scheduled for the coming weekend while we were there; so I imagine the crowds will be much larger than the few people we saw wandering about.

We left Madrid and got back to camp in time for lunch.  The rest of the afternoon was spent hanging at the campsite, enjoying the warm weather under the shade of Juniper trees.

I did go riding on Yagi, my TW200 to fully explore the FR542 porting of the Cedro Peak Loop.  It would have been a deadly mistake to continue up it with the VRRV!  Lots of rock ledges, big boulders, deep ruts and ironically, another campground area.

We plan on being home, back in Colorado, by tomorrow evening.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

A Short Visit to the Petrified Forest National Park

We left the Sedona area this morning and less than three hours later were pulling into the RV parking lot near the south entrance to the Petrified Forest National Park.

After setting up the VRRV for an overnight stay, we unhooked the Honda CR-V and left to go into the park so Martha could take a look around.

I've been to this park before: LINK and shot more pics then than I did today.

After a visit to the visitor center so Martha could get her Parks Passport stamped, we were approached in the parking lot by a couple of motorcycle riders.

Turns out they're tourists from Slovenia, Milan and Sabina, and touring Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles in four weeks.  They were running low on gas for their Harley and asked if we could spare them some.  You see, we still had the cargo carrier attached to the rear of the CR-V and one of the containers was a red gas can.

Milan cut a plastic drink bottle into a funnel and carefully poured gas into the Harley's gas tank while I held onto the funnel.

Milan turns on the Harley's dashboard to see
how many miles the added gas now provides.


Milan and Sabina

We said our goodbyes after exchanging contact info in terms of email addresses.

Martha and I then drove to the other end of the park and stopped here and there for views and sometimes pictures.  The light was quite flat and when the scenery was below clouds, it was quite dark also.

As I mentioned before, there's more pics available from the previous visit to this park.

One of the stops we made, which I hadn't done before, was to the Painted Desert Inn.  Here's some of the things that caught my eye inside.

Then and Now

Cool petroglyph: Hopi Mountain Lion

From back in the park's heyday I think...

In the Inn's dining room, there were a couple of large Hopi murals.  In the one below, my eye was drawn to the fierce animals the two Hopi boys had to deal with during their journey.

What animal is this?


By this point in our camping trip, both Martha and I were "rocked out" so we didn't really spend much more time in the park.  We rested the rest of the afternoon away and will most likely displace tomorrow towards Albuquerque.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

T-Dub'ing the Broken Arrow OHV Trail near Sedona, AZ

I spent the morning riding my TW200, Yagi, through the Broken Arrow Trail that is located within the city limits of Sedona.

At the trailhead off of Morgan Road, you can park and hike on the trail or there is an OHV version of the trail as well.  It proved slightly technical in spots, lots of slick rock, ruts and rocks.  A nice ride overall, with great rock formations.

Cattle Jeeps

Note the cattle jeeps used to ferry loads
of tourists.

Which one do you prefer, the above shot
or a closer version on Yagi?

Yagi and I were never alone, tourists may have
been edited out of this shot.

Only had one slightly close call in terms of cager traffic both on the way to the trail and returning to camp.  Both incidents had me giving the clueless cager the ADV salute.

Made it back to the camp area with no further issues.  Did some exploring of neighboring public lands and found some more campsite candidates if ever back in this area.

The afternoon was spent hanging around the VRRV and relaxing. We displace further eastward tomorrow.