Showing posts with label arizona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arizona. Show all posts

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Hanging out in the Indian Bread BLM Recreation Area

 Sunny but cool today, I don't think the temperature reached 60°F (15.5°C) which was the forecasted high.

The sunrise was meh but it was a good opportunity to test the new camera's capabilities in low light conditions.  Some post-processing was again involved.




I was using f8 to achieve the sunburst when the sun broke past the small hilltop to the east of my campsite.  Not bad.



I did get some Cactus Wrens wandering near the URRV and it was a good chance to use the zoom capabilities of the new camera:



More zoom testing, note the little red spot by the rocks....she's with the camper you can see on the right, they were parked at a nice distance from my campsite and had come in last night in the dark.  I bet they had such fun parking their rig.


Now how did I know it was a she in the red jacket?  Zoomed in to 728mm, the max optical zoom setting:


I'm really liking the zoom on this camera!

Didn't really do much, the cool winds dissuaded me from riding until nearly 3:30 PM and then it was just some short riding to explore other possible campsites. 

Upon my return, I found this shithead from TX setting up camp damn near my campsite, sigh.  What part of dispersed camping don't some Arschl√∂cher understand I continue to wonder.


This of course cemented the decision I'd been weighing whether to leave tomorrow morning!  I'll make sure to make lots of noise, bright and early tomorrow.




Friday, December 04, 2020

Boondocking at the Indian Bread Recreation Area (BLM) and testing a new camera

I displaced from the vicinity of Gila Bend and the Barry Goldwater AF Range Thursday morning, and parked at my FIL's place so I could hand deliver the title for Fiona to my insurance company's office in Phoenix.  

Thursday after, after a lot of anguished thought, much bothering of both CCjon and Scooter in the Sticks' Steve Williams, thinking about needs vs wants, trying to establish and adhere to requirements grounded in reality....I went ahead and picked up a new camera at the BestBuy store near Sun City, AZ on Thursday of this week.

Image source: Best Buy

It's full name is Sony - Cyber-shot DSC-HX80 18.2-Megapixel Digital Camera.   I examined it at the store before buying it and missed one thing that might spell trouble and cause me to return the camera (and pay the 15% restocking fee).  It's aperture range is f3.5-f8 whereas my old Sony A5000 had an aperture range of f3.5-f22!

Since I have to pay a restocking fee whether I returned it the next day or before January 16, I decided to keep it for now and put it through its paces.  Steve Williams reminded me most of my pics are outdoors and in daylight so the not so fast lens on this camera should be OK.  CCjon reminded me that not having the ability to save pictures in RAW format isn't a factor if I'm not going to make large prints of my photos.

Otherwise, it's like having a smaller version of the A5000, same interface and pretty much same capabilities though a smaller sensor with 18.2 Megapixels vice the A5000's 20.1 Megapixels.  It even has the same flip-up monitor that the A5000 had for selfies but which I use for low to the ground angle shots.  Oh, and it has a pop-up EVF or Electronic View Finder for situations where the monitor is washed out due to sunlight.

The big pluses are its small size, making it pocketable so I don't need a tank bag anymore and its 30x Optical Zoom which means no need to carry extra lenses like with the A5000.  I don't have to learn a different camera manufacturer's software interface either!

Here's a selfie for your amusement:


Early Friday morning, once I finished packing up the URRV, I climbed on top of the URRV to get this picture of the palms and White Tank Mountain in the distance.  I was seeing how the depth of field held up as I like both the foreground and background in focus.


And then I zoomed in to the maximum optical range of 728mm:


Not bad eh?  The above were shot in the "Superior Auto" mode, I plan on experimenting with Aperture Priority mode later on as that's what I use for Sunrise/Sunset shots.

I left my FIL's place at 9:30 AM and five hours later I was pulling into the Indian Bread Recreation Area's camping section.  The place was near full with many RVs and car campers, more than I've ever seen for this place.  My favorite spot outside the camping section was taken, dammit, so I grabbed almost the last available spot further into Happy Camp Canyon which is where this BLM site is located.




Once again trying out the optical zoom:



The camera has image stabilization so the use of a big optical zoom setting doesn't require a tripod for sharp results.  At least in this case, I'm sure at lower light levels, a tripod will be mandatory as this camera doesn't have great low light level performance reviews online.  As I said, we'll see.

I rode Yagi, my Yamaha TW200, around the other campsites to see what remained open.  Nothing that I could find that would easily fit my URRV!  The great outdoors, at least in this area, is getting crowded...though it is the weekend.

What do you think of the image quality of the above photos?  Your feedback is requested!

Note: As always some post-processing was done by me, but in light of the testing, very minimal changes were done, mostly dehazing and lightening of shadows.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Birds, Bugs and Bushings

 A pretty quiet day here in the desert.  

Some Gambel's Quails came by to check out the URRV but did not tarry.  Sorry but the camera in my Pixel 4a, as with most camera phones, is lacking when it comes to zoom function.  The below pic is shot at 2X zoom, I think its optical, but not sure.

As to bugs, there have been very few flies this time around, probably the cool temperatures at night killing off any remaining flies from summer/fall.  There are however, enough black beetles crawling around, to get one's attention when walking or sitting outside the URRV:


These beetles, when they detect your approach, freeze and stick their butt up in the air.  Not sure why but I'm guessing they will spray something at you from that end if they sense an attack.  I basically left them alone unless they were headed towards the URRV, in which case I scooped them up with a shovel and carried them away from the site.

As to bushings, I finally remembered to send some pics to RichardM to help me identify the rubber bits in the picture below.  Turns out they're the Sway Bar Bushings and while not exactly falling apart, should probably be replaced with newer/stronger ones.


I occasionally hear a metallic "klunk" while the URRV is moving and am hoping it's these bushings which appear to be quite "squashed".  I plan to work on replacing them when next I am home with the URRV.

Speaking of home, the plan now is to start heading back to Colorado as soon as this Friday/Saturday to take advantage of a period of "warm", snow-free, weather forecasted for my route back there.  I'll be taking the I-10/I-25 route through Albuquerque, NM...probably overnighting in BLM land near the town of Truth or Consequences, NM.

Before that, I have to turn in Fiona's title to the insurance office in Phoenix tomorrow and hopefully also have time to remove the gearbox and final drive from poor Fiona.  I'm hoping these components are salvageable and got permission from the insurance rep to do so.  The insurance settlement has been finalized, they await only the receipt of the title.

The amount of the settlement was higher than expected so that's good.  I'd still rather have Fiona in one piece and working but it is what it is.

Update: DEC 3

The process involved with just gaining access to Fiona at the Insurance Auction Yard run by IAA which my insurance company uses proved to be quite the PITA!  All this to access components whose condition might not be worth the time/effort to get into sellable condition.  I realized, afterwards, that I was just being greedy.  So, the effort to recover the gearbox and final drive is at an end.

I did get the title to Fiona dropped off though, it was of course on the opposite end of the Phoenix Metro Area but traffic wasn't bad at all.

I'll resume my drive back to Colorado tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Cross-Country T-Dub'ing to a False Cave

 After breakfast this morning, I was walking around the outside of the URRV and happened to spot what looked like a railroad tunnel opening in the distance, high up on one of the nearby hills.

Using the binoculars, it seemed to be a railroad tunnel for sure....as it didn't match the existing railroad which traverses the Barry Goldwater AF Gunnery Range I'm presently boondocking in, it was an alluring mystery.

So, after gearing up, I rode Yagi the 2 miles or so across country as there was no road or trail.  The TW200 made light work of traversing the gullies and shallow washes that crisscross this area of Arizona.  There were times when the bank was too steep or high and forced a detour to find a shallower "fording" area but no big deal otherwise.

It was around 10:30 by the time I got as close as I was going to get and it still "kinda" looked like a railroad tunnel but the sun's light was casting the area in different shadows now.

I left Yagi and climbed for a bit to get a closer look.  It wasn't too bad a climb, a bit slippery with lots of loose rock but not too risky.

Finally, I was close enough to get a good look and damned if it was just a trick of the light/shadows that had drawn me to this location.



I'd failed to take a picture from the camp, where it really did appear as a railroad tunnel's opening.  I'll try and remember to take a picture tomorrow but then again, the camera in my new Android phone isn't great for long distance imagery.

Rest of the day was spent resting from all the climbing/hiking of the morning.  Did some more research on possible cameras to replace my burnt up Sony A5000.  CCjon came up with a good set of suggestions in the category of Big Zoom cameras so I wouldn't have to carry a separate telephoto lens.

Spent some time looking at some of those but the nagging doubt in the back of my mind was how little or how infrequently I did end up using the telephoto lens so not sure about this category of cameras.

I'm open to suggestions from you, dear readers.  I have become accustomed to the Sony interface in their cameras and like all the options in manual mode.  I had been cruising sites such as eBay and Craigslist seeking to just find exact replacements for the Sony A5000 and telephoto lens, now not so sure.

Oh, there were several A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft flying about the area, practicing their gunnery.  The phone's camera proved woefully inadequate for such long distance photography.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Boondocking again in Area B of the Barry Goldwater AF Gunnery Range

 Spent the last few days with my FIL in Phoenix, AZ....parking the URRV in his complex's parking lot.  There was another RV parked a few slots over after one day; and they even deployed their slideouts!

Thanksgiving was at a very small gathering in Fountain Hills, AZ.  Friends of the family comprised four of the six members of the gathering, yours truly and my FIL completing the sixpack.

Friday through Sunday of the week were spent hanging out at my FIL's place, me perusing online sources for possible replacements for the Sony A5000 camera and telephoto lens.  I did find a likely candidate on Ebay but I waited too long and it was snapped up by someone else.  Oh well.

Monday, I filled the fresh water tank, and after receiving Fiona's title from the mail carrier, headed out towards Gila Bend.  Martha had sent me the title once I had been told of the necessity by the insurance agent; I guess I should have asked for it earlier but there you go.

Fiona is due to be examined by someone working for the insurance company late this week, so we'll see how things go.

I got to the Gila Bend AF Auxiliary Field's RV Dump station and emptied the black/gray tanks before exiting the field and turning further south on US85.

About 16 miles later, I was turning onto the right gate into Area B which I've stayed in before and which is open to the public with the right permit from range control.

Looks like I have the immediate area, all the way to Trail 609, to myself.  


My usual spot was available and soon I was set up for boondocking.  The weather was a bit breezy but warm enough with temperatures in the low 70s.

Sunset was OK


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

T-Dubing about the Lake Pleasant Regional Park

 BLUF: The park is "meh" in terms of scenery, am sure it's much better when you're on a boat but that's the impression I got today.

First though,  pictures of the old iPhone 6 and Sony A5000 camera as they looked when I picked them out of the ashes the day after the fire.


Rode there a bit past mid-morning after a family zoom call to catch up on things back in Colorado.

Temperatures were in the low to mid 60s but felt colder due to the wind chill factor while riding to/from the park.

Several of the roads within the park were closed to traffic, reasons unstated but I did manage to ride most of the roads near the southern end of the lake.

I must remember next time, that this particular destination isn't worth the $7 daily use fee if just going there for pictures.


Of riding interest, there were several very rocky small peninsulas jutting out onto the lake.  Traction was iffy on some of them but some I managed to get Yagi out onto:


One of a pair of Burros I saw nibbling at grass near some RV parking spots.  I'm thinking this Burro was tired of the "damn tourists" stopping and taking his picture as he (after I'd taken several pics) turned to present his butt to me and proceeded to defecate.....effectively saying: "Enough Pictures!"  :)




It was almost 1PM at this point so I exited the park and retraced my route back to the New River State Trust area where I'm boondocking.

The area isn't bad, but there's enough other RVs to make it seem crowded to my anti-social sensibilities.  Luckily, the other campers know to keep a reasonable if not more distance from the other RVs!

Headed back to Sun City tomorrow, having Thanksgiving Dinner with my FIL and Martha's cousin Angela at the home of friends of the family in Fountain Hills, a suburb within the Phoenix Metro Area.


Monday, November 23, 2020

Boondocking near New River, AZ

 Spent three days at my FIL's place in Sun City, working on the paperwork related to Fiona's insurance claim, the camera insurance claim and just trying to get my mind straight on this event.

Spent some time as well trying to clean up the tools I managed to recover from among the ashes in Fiona's trunk where I carried the tool cases.  Most likely will end up buying new versions of most of them I think.

As if to memorialize Fiona, the sunsets for visible from Sun City were pretty good:

Saturday, November 21's sunset, while I was standing by my FIL's gate entrance with the TCL 540 burner phone:

It proved to be quite the hassle to get a replacement phone as my account with Verizon had 2FA or Two Factor Authentication turned on and of course the burned up phone was the primary destination for verification codes.  The secondary option to use email worked for a while but then quit.

Lots of time spent on the line with Verizon Tech Support using the burner phone.  What a PITA.  All this so I could put in an order online for a phone which I'd been told would save some money.

Finally, all the security problems defeated their Tier 2 tech support puke and he said I needed to go to a "Corporate" store to have them fix my access.  Not just any Verizon store, but a "corporate" store.  Luckily there was one a few miles away.

They looked at me like I was crazy when I described what their own Tech Support had told me.  Once I got in to see a sales rep, I was being handed a replacement phone within 15 minutes!  The cost vs doing the ordering online?  $20 more, big whoop.  I should have just gone to the store first thing and avoided all the stress of dealing with tech support calls.

Got a Pixel 4a, a mid-range phone using Android OS.  It's supposed to be pretty fast (so far it is), seems to have a great camera (second sunset pic below taken with it) and there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome learning the Android interface vs the iOS interface but it's going well.

By Sunday, I'd recovered or ported over manually most of my data from my old phone which I'd backed up to the cloud.  I've now gone whole hog into the world of Google in terms of contacts, calendar, notes, music (via YouTube Music owned by google).  All hail our benign overlords at Google!  ;)

Sunday's sunset was "mo better"

Monday, November 23

Spent the morning cleaning tools and throwing away spare parts, bits and bobs which I either couldn't trust after cleaning or just weren't worth the time.  Packed up the URRV and after an early lunch departed my FIL's place for a few day's of boondocking near Lake Pleasant on the north side of the Phoenix Metro area.

I picked a spot on Arizona State Trust land near New River, AZ.  Pretty flat ground with some vegetation but no big trees to speak off, located near some low-lying hills.


As I was working on pics for this post, which are taken with the Pixel 4a, I realized I lacked a cable to do bulk transfers of pictures from the phone to the laptop.  Sure, I could have emailed them to myself but wanted the capability to both do charging and storage via cable to my laptop.

The nearby town of Anthem had a big shopping complex which included a Walmart and there I found a USB to USB-C cable.  The Pixel 4a uses the USB-C, something new to me as my electronics either used the Apple Lightning connector or the burned up camera used a Mini-DIN connector.

Traffic problems on the highway resulted in me taking the long way back, so an almost 32 miles loop instead of a 16 mile loop on Yagi.  Oh well.

Sunset was "OK", I realized that using a camera phone exclusively will probably not work for me as it lacks the ability to change the F-Stop to create lighting effects such as star burst patterns and different filtering themes while shooting.



One of these nights, perhaps tonight, I'll try the night shot capability of the Pixel 4a's phone, something their marketing department touted quite strongly in their advertising.  Apparently, you can get a picture of the Milky Way if the skies are clear, no light pollution and of course the camera is held steady enough by a tripod.




Saturday, November 21, 2020

Fiona is Gone

 Thursday, November 19

So, Fiona is toast.  Literally.

I was riding back from taking pictures of a beautiful sunset, after a near perfect day of riding on Yagi, and about a mile away from the campsite, I heard a "pop", looked down and the left carburetor's fuel line was on fire!

I immediately stopped and killed the engine, and attempted to put out the fire using dirt from the road.  Before I even the second scoop of dirt on the fire, I heard a "whomp" and the whole rig was on fire!

I couldn't even get near the tug to get at my tank bag which had my phone and camera...all I could do was watch it all burn.

Once I was sure that nearby vegetation wasn't going to catch on fire, I jogged/walked back to the campsite to retrieve Yagi, the TW200 and the URRV's fire extinguisher.  

The rig's front and rear tires, snowmen shock absorber rubber housings, and the spare tire were all still burning when I returned to the rig.  The fire extinguisher didn't last very long but did put out some of the fire in the trunk and sidecar.  The tires continued to burn, and eventually I got enough dirt on them that the fires went out completely.

Dammit.

Still, I wasn't far from the campsite and I wasn't injured except for a couple of small burns that I got while trying to put out the fire.

I got back on Yagi, rode the 3 miles to the Shell Gas Station near the I-8 exit and borrowed the clerk's phone to call 911 to report a vehicle fire and to let Martha know what had happened.

Once the Sheriff's Deputy and the Volunteer Fire Department showed up, I led them to poor Fiona in the dark.  The deputy filled out a report, and the crew from the volunteer fire station helped me push the rig off the dirt road and onto the side so it wouldn't be a traffic hazard.

The firefighters and the deputy sheriff were quite amazed at the damage, I'm sure Fiona provided quite the entertainment factor for them that night.  We all tried and make light of the situation with humor, which helped.

No pics of course, since my camera and phone were burned up.

Friday, November 20

Woke early and headed into town to search for an eventually find a place to buy a prepaid "burner" phone in order to have commo, coordinate Fiona's removal from the military reservation, and call the respective insurance companies.

Got back to Fiona to see what tools I could recover and for pics in daylight using the prepaid phone's camera.






Got hold of the insurance company, they arranged for a local shop to come out ( I met them at the highway and guided them in ) and they took Fiona's remains to be eventually taken elsewhere and I'm sure disposed of, I highly doubt they'll try to repair.




Lots of mixed feelings about this incident.  I'm going to miss the power of Fiona's BMW engine.  I won't miss her klunky Russian gearbox which was slowly going south.  Her wiring was a bit of a puzzle due to the PO having completely replaced the stock wire harness with his own wires, all the same color so kind of hard to troubleshoot.

No idea what the insurance company will pay out, I imagine it won't be much.

I also have to file a claim with USAA for the camera and telephoto lens which burned up in the tank bag.

The iPhone 6 I'd been using the last few years is of course a melted slag as well, so I'll probably be ordering a Pixel phone and switching over to Android.  Sigh.

On the bright side, I only got slightly singed eyebrows from trying to reach the tank bag, and a couple of burn blisters while trying to put the fire out.

And no, I'll not be buying another Ural to have as a "spare" to Scarlett, my 2014 rig.

Monday, November 16, 2020

T-Dub'ing to the Betty Lee Mine and Shooting Super Stallions

 I woke near Sunrise and caught the sun as it crested the horizon:

The plan today was to go nearer the Copper Mountains that are roughly 8 miles to the south and check out the Betty Lee Mine therein.

The mountains themselves were OK, not much in terms of majestic scenery or such, pretty much a larger/longer version of Baker Peaks next to the campsite:


From the signpost labeled F7, one takes one of the sub-trails towards the southwest and following the sign for the mine, arrives after roughly 2.5 to 3 miles.  The trail wasn't too bad, quite rocky in some spots but nothing Yagi couldn't handle in spite of her rider.

Soon enough we arrived at what I called the "parking lot".  There would be about .5 miles of hiking with an accompanying climb of about 5 floors according to the health app on my iPhone.


The direction you head into from the "parking lot"

The trail wasn't as well marked as I would like, in fact I lost it a few times and ended up going up and down boulders strewn about the dry creek that formed this gulch.  The .5 miles or so took me about 30 minutes each way in the mid-morning sun, a light sweat was developed by yours truly due to the warm weather.

Maybe halfway there, a view of the gulch/draw one needs to negotiate to get to the mine entrances:


A view back towards where I left Yagi....

As I neared the mine entrances, I could spot discarded/rusty metal objects and pipes that used to be part of the mine's infrastructure.


Finally, I got to the first mine entrance.  It was pretty easy to spot since it had remnants of a small railway which they must have used to cart the ore and dirt out of the mine:


Around the bend above, you come onto the entrance to the mine.  Surprisingly, it's not closed off to the public with bars or some similar obstacle.  

Old mines usually being death traps, I did not go in.

Across a very small ravine, there laid another mine entrance nearby:


I returned the way I hiked in, found the real trail on the way out, not much better but smaller boulders anyways to negotiate.

On the ride back to camp, I took the wrong road back and ended up correcting myself by going cross-country for a bit.  This led to the below discovery of old bombs which actually were located pretty close to where the old armored vehicles are!

Pretty sure, I hope, the Air Force rendered these inert

I got back around Noon and spent the next 3-4 hours resting in the URRV's shade and shooting pics of a couple of Marine Corps Super Stallion CH-53E (I think) Helicopters doing some training which centered mainly on landings and takeoffs under dusty/blind conditions.

My puny 200mm telephoto lens didn't get too many good shots but sometimes the choppers came close enough:








Around 4PM, the choppers had left so I got on Fiona and headed out to the border of Block C area for a picture of the border sign:


Then I headed back the 2 miles or so back to the campsite and headed up the hill where the telcom antennas are for pictures:


While I was up there, the choppers came back and I got some shots of them doing their sandy conditions landing training.  Must be quite "exciting" landing such a machine while not being able to see a damn thing due to the dust!



Another picture of Uma from the hill top

As sunset approached, I left the hilltop and rode the short distance to where I'd found a good spot with hills to pose Fiona: