April 28, 2004

The Joys of XM Radio

For Christmas Dan's family very generously gave us XM Radio for our camper. We were so excited; until we learned what a project this would turn out to be.

Note to Goddard Family: We still love the gift and now, 4 months later, we think we may have figured it out- thanks again.

Now that I have covered my derriere with the in-laws let me tell you about the joys of XM Radio. First you have to be able to get a southern signal for the antenna. This is problematic because when you get the radio installed the logical place to put the antenna is on the roof of the truck, but then you add the cab-over and you can't get a signal to save your life. So you have to find a way to get the antenna up to the roof of the camper.

Again this is where Dan and Rachel realize that engineering would have been a useful major for one of us. After much deliberation we have come up with the solution featured in the pictures below. Now I must tell you that I am a bit apprehensive about posting this pre-trial, as in before we have driven the newly modified truck at 60mph for a day or two. Who knows if this will hold up.

However, after some thought I decided that this blog will contain our victories and our defeats, so I am posting this and you may keep your eyes out for a future posting entitled "The #@$*& Joys of XM Radio- Part II".

The antenna is magnetic, so we had to affix a metal plate to our aluminum roof.

Note: Dan his been properly scolded for his non-osha-approved ladder usage.
The antenna wire runs through the truck's fire wall, then up the rubber on the outside of the windshield to the truck's roof. The there is about 6" of expeosed wire between the truck roof and the cab-over bottom. The wire runs from underneath the cab-over, along the edge up to the roof.

Dan used self-adhesive clips to run the wire up to the roof.

Non-recommended modifications.

In the Moab installment I spoke about our non-lance recommended rack modification, and many have asked for pictures. Well it seems that the snow has finally stopped here so last night we uncovered and loaded the camper, and I had a chance to take some photos.

We need the rack to carry two whitewater kayaks and two surfboards- that is what the towers (which are folded down in this picture) are for. The "rocket box" on the other side will haul our snorkel, fishing and kayaking gear. Then in the winter we'll switch out some of the gear for ski equipment.

The kayak towers.

To install the rack we had to drill in the rails for the rack towers to go into. This required drilling aprox. 10 self sinking screws into the roof and 4 lag-bolts THROUGH the roof.

The rails that support the rack.

The towers that go into the rails to support the rack.

We wanted the lag-bolts to come through to the interior INSIDE the cabinets. In this pic, the bolt is inside the cabinet over the dinette, the door is folded down for the picture, but i assure we accomplished our goal. :)

The Rocket Box.

This shows how close to the roof the rack really is.

Dan admiring his handy work, and the river.

April 18, 2004

Knowing what you’ve got before it’s gone.

We have seven and a half weeks left before we leave this beautiful place we have called home for so long. I am trying to soak it all in one last time.

Last week I was invited on a Piedra River trip. Now this river is in a notoriously wet environment and for those of you not up on your Spanish piedra = rock, as in at low water, say in early season, say in April, there will be many MANY rocks. So confronted with the opportunity to raft a low water, rocky river where snow is a very real possibility, a lesser woman might have declined. But since I am about to live in a camper for a year- I decided that a potentially bitterly cold and frustrating day was exactly the kind of primer I needed. And who knows if I will ever get to float this amazingly beautiful stretch of white water again.

The Piedra River flows through two impressive boxes, or canyons. In all there are five class IV rapids, and a class V+, which generally you line, boats through. This means that you tie ropes to the boat and guide it, passenger less through the rapids from the shore. This rapid is called Eye of The Needle or Mudslide depending on who taught you the rapid’s names. There are primitive, natural hot springs near the end of the trip, and they are a great way to warm up and reflect on the day’s adventures. Some local outfitters offer trips on the Piedra and if you are a looking for an exciting, beautiful and remote Colorado rafting trip, I recommend this river. Maybe not in mid-April, but I recommend it.

The river flow was approx. 800cfs at the gauging station on this trip.

Driving to the put-in

The entrance to the Upper Box.

Can you see the water falling into the river?

Lining the boats through Eye of the Needle.

Our heroine :)

Last light before the take-out.

April 09, 2004

Preliminary Itinerary #2

Due to recent events our plans are changing. Since our beloved mutt passed away, we are now in no hurry to get to California, in fact we don’t NEED to go to Cali at all.
So here’s the new plan, for now:

We will be departing Colorado on June 28th, (congratulations to Lauren and Dusty, and Mead and Lee Ann- and no we don't really hold any ill will against you for planning weddings which delay our departure date :)

First Leg, July: Jackson, WY and Yellowstone National Park for about a week, so far we have only made 2 reservations for the whole year.

Then it’s on to Idaho and Montana for about a week.

From there we’ll cross B.C. with a stop in Nelson to scout out our winter accommodations and ski resort options. We have about a week to explore between Nelson and Vancouver. At the end of July we will be cheating for a few days. For Dan’s birthday I got him 3 days at a B&B in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Really we won’t have enough time there to make ferrying the camper across worth it, and this way we can take a real bath and sleep in a feather bed, just as camper fever is about to set in. This is reservation #2.

Second Leg, August:
Washington and Oregon for 2-3 weeks. Then through Lake Tahoe on our way to Arizona.

(From here on the plan's the same.)

Third Leg, August 20th- September 8th-ish: 18-21day rafting the Colorado river through the Grand Canyon, that's right turn green with envy, we are part of a private river trip through the ditch! Thanks Bjorn for actually applying for a permit, we would have done it if we'd had the $100 permit fee ten years ago, we swear!

Fourth Leg, Late September- Christmas:
Mexico. We will be starting out in Baja for a few months of surfing. Then ferrying across to the mainland, where we hope to meet up with Rachel's folks for Thanksgiving, North of Puerto Vallarta. From there we'll be heading north arriving in Austin, TX in time to spend X-mas with Dan's family.

Fifth Leg, New Years -05 Till the Thaw: British Columbia, Canada. We intend to ski/ snowboard as much as we possibly can :)

Sixth Leg, Thaw- Till the Money Runs Out: East, across Canada and down the coast of the U.S.

When the Money Runs Out: haven't quite gotten this far.....

April 02, 2004

Never Post Angry

Caveat: As a general rule I try not to post when angry, bored or, as has been the case recently, when I am sad. Last week we had to put down our dog, Kala. She has been with me since I was 19 and I can’t express the level of sadness I have experienced since she passed. However, now that a week has gone by I can again see the forest for the trees and at least for short periods of time I can focus on lighter topics.

Bike racks and the double hitch system:

Where to put all of our toys is becoming a common theme. In our attempt to mount bicycles to our camper we bought a fancy Yakima hitch-mounted, swiveling, bike rack. The idea being that it can mount in the rear hitch, and because it swivels open, we can still get into the camper. This plan was just fine until we figured out that we will need a cargo carrier, or rear “porch”, to haul our generator and extra fuel. No big deal we’ll just install a front hitch and put the bikes up there, simple enough right? No of course it cannot be that simple. Last weekend we assembled the bike rack, it is HUGE. Were we to mount it onto the front of the truck we would be able to haul our bikes, yes, but seeing the road, not so much.

What to do, what to do??? This is when the epiphany came to me. The double hitch. Now I am assuming that I am not the first person to ever come up with this idea but it made me feel pretty smart at the time. We are going to have a second hitch receiver welded below the existing one, in the lower hitch we will install the porch, the upper one will hold the rack. The lower hitch will not be used for towing and will only have to support about 150lbs. Yes folks we will look like the Yuppie Clampets headin’ for B-e-v-e-r-l-y, but we are embracing this fact and if mobile trailer trash is what we are meant to be, then so be it.