This time I splurged on a protector to prolong the hood’s paint job. I hope. I wish they made them in a more subtle white besides mucho macho black and blingtastic chrome. Oh well. The bugs and stones that hit it are colorblind.
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
I bought a box of 100 nitrile gloves a few months ago. Meanwhile, a friend sent me a wad of them. I thought they would be more than enough to last through the pandemic. Wrong.
So, synthetic-rubber-covered fingers crossed, this box of 200 should last. Man, I hope they won’t be needed much longer.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Monday, September 21, 2020
So, tomorrow we get all equinoxy. I sensed that without consulting a calendar. I’ve become less concerned with the clock these past years, going more by the sun. It’s increasingly obvious the sun is rising later and setting sooner. It doesn’t help there are mountains on the east and west sides of this valley, cutting sun exposure even more.
Yesterday evening it had been dark for a while and felt like, oh, 10:30 or so. It was only 8:15. Sigh. I think this winter is going to feel exceptionally long.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Okay, this is an experiment. Most of the time the small omnidirectional antenna that came with my cell signal booster works just fine. When it doesn’t, I get out the big directional antenna and see if I can pull in them interwebs from somewhere. That’s a little inconvenient. I need to unpack it from the back of the van, mount the mast, run the cable, then aim the antenna this way and that, checking the hot spot to see whether things improve. And since I tend to switch locations frequently, it means I have to pack it all back up, then maybe unpack it again at the next boondocking site.
I had an idea during the night and I checked the feasibility this morning. If I drilled a center hole in the bracket, it could pivot so that different corner holes lined up in the same spot. I could position the antenna horizontally when not in use. Remove a bolt, flip the antenna up, reinsert the bolt. Presto!
Saturday, September 19, 2020
For about a year now my big toes and little piggies have been trying to convince me the Keen Gypsum hiking shoes I love are a half size too small and not wide enough. I finally realized they were right. Sigh.
Keens are already made with roomy toe boxes. That’s why my favorite everyday shoes are their Arroyo II semi-sandals (which, sadly, they’ve stopped making). (They’ve also discontinued the Gypsums.) But I needed wider than that, so when I ordered a pair of Targhee II’s I clicked the WIDE option. That’s EE instead of D.
Friday, September 18, 2020
Lou had been making friends with the squirrels that lived under the shipping container/shop. He gave them names and snacks. They eventually became a problem. Digging things up, breaking into stuff. They had to go. Lou borrowed a humane trap and caught eleven of them. “I was surprised,” he said. “I thought there were only half as many.” Lou relocated them to a lovely wooded area a couple of miles away.fly in the side door of the Rolling Steel Tent, don’t understand the concept of glass, poop in surprise or fear, and can’t find their way back out. I like when the family of quail come out in the evening and graze in the patch of “lawn” between the house and van. I keep wondering how those birds feel about the head feathers curving down to the edge of their line of sight. Does it drive them nuts like it would me? Or are the feathers actually in a blind spot? If so, do they see the feathers on other quail and think, “Do I have that? Where are they? I can’t see them? I keep turning my head but… My siblings say I have them, but they’ve been known to lie.”
A downside of constant nomadery is not being in a spot long enough to have something delivered, or even having an address to deliver to. So when I hang out at Lou’s place for a while, it’s order time. The UPS guy was here today. Details in future posts.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
FIRST, THE TECHNICAL STUFF
THE HISTORY OF MY PROBLEM
Back in the spring of 2018 I noticed a puddle forming under the Rolling Steel Tent. Its source appeared to be a leak in one of the high pressure hoses between the power steering pump and brake master cylinder. I had the hoses replaced. The leak continued, but not badly.
Convinced I had gotten a bad replacement hose, I went to have it replaced again in November 2019. The mechanic determined the hoses were fine and that the leak was actually coming from the brake master cylinder. I had it replaced.
During late winter/early spring, the van started making a moaning sound that changed pitch with engine speed. The moaning would subside whenever I topped off the fluid.
Then this summer the moan turned into a whine and fluid would leak right out. I limped to a mechanic who informed me the power steering pump and steering gear were both “puking fluid” and would need to be replaced. Okay.
When I picked up the Rolling Steel Tent, the power steering and power brakes failed as I pulled out of the car repair place. I struggled around the block and back to the shop. They replaced the defective pump, and I was back in business.
Except things didn’t feel quite right. The steering and brakes felt only partially boosted. And the moan was still there. I wondered if the noise was something else. The transmission perhaps? Ack! I hoped not.
I managed to make it from Oregon to New Mexico without breaking down. But I needed to find out what was going on. Was replacement pump number two also bad?
Fortunately, the shop in Oregon was affiliated with NAPA and provided a warranty on parts and labor. Also fortunately, there’s a NAPA-affiliated shop in Silver City. I went in Monday to tell them my story. They gave me an appointment the next day to check things out.
Tuesday the mechanic confirmed the noise was from the power steering pump. (Whew, relief. I guess.) He also noticed the fluid return line from the brake master cylinder to the reservoir was kinked, restricting flow, causing starvation in the system, which was probably what destroyed the pump and steering gear. They ordered a new hose. I came back Wednesday to have it installed.
With the new hose, steering and braking felt much more normal, but the pump still moaned. It had probably been damaged by fluid starvation. So it was replaced on Thursday. Under warranty.
Now the moan is gone and the steering and brakes work as they should. Hurray. Fingers crossed. Toes, too.
So, here’s what I think. Automotive parts change in small ways over the years. Sometimes there are tiny differences from one vehicle model to another, like between pickups and vans. I think it’s very possible the return line connection on the replacement brake master cylinder was in a slightly different place, causing the hose to not fit properly, creating the kink.
I don’t blame the mechanic who replaced the brake master cylinder, or the parts supplier. There are so many parts and too many differences to keep track of. And I don’t blame the shop in Oregon for not noticing the kinked hose. They were concentrating on the pump and steering gear, not the master cylinder at the other end of the system. The cost of the repairs (and hotel room while waiting) hurt, but when I compare it to what I had spent on house repairs over the years—new furnace, new air conditioner, removal of fallen tree, new roof, rebuilt retaining wall, and so on—it’s not so bad. And the van repairs happened while I’m generally very happy with my life. I was not a happy man when I lived in the house.
Monday, September 14, 2020
LOU’S KEYS (that I know of) MY KEYSHouse door VanShop door CabinetStorage trailer side doorStorage trailer back doorStorage trailer hitchWell houseMowerCarTruckCamperVarious cases, chests and boxes
Sunday, September 13, 2020
Lou loves having projects. House construction kept him busy for a year. Then there was getting the shop in shape. This spring it was a greenhouse. While I was wandering around this summer he decided to build a small camper for fly fishing expeditions.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
• When stumped by a life choice, choose ‘enlargement’ over happiness• The capacity to tolerate minor discomfort is a superpower• The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it• Know when to move on
Friday, September 11, 2020
Mirroring is the behavior in which one person unconsciously imitates the gesture, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Mirroring often occurs in social situations, particularly in the company of close friends or family.…This concept takes place in everyday interactions and often goes unnoticed by both the person enacting the mirroring behaviors as well as the individual who is being mirrored.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Tuesday, record high temperatures in the Rockies turned into record September lows, delivering up to a foot of snow. There was snow in the Pacific Northwest as well. Hurricane-force winds in Utah sent trees crashing—one toppling my great-grandfather’s headstone, another almost damaging a niece’s house—and left thousands (including my sister) without power. We got the southern end of the freaky weather here in southwest New Mexico. Wind, thunderstorms, hail, rain and unseasonal chill.
No doubt, the cold, wet weather was a gift from Canada, which pitied our suffering from heat and firestorms. Thank you, my Canuck friends, even though the relief is only temporary.
Besides a break from the heat, the cold front offered us nomads the opportunity to evaluate our winter preparedness. Do we have adequate cold weather clothing and bedding? A good heat source? Can your tires handle sloppy roads? If not, there’s still time to take measures. Because, as we know from Game of Thrones, winter is coming.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
I knew what the actual solution was and decided it was past time to implement it. Cardboard template, old license plate, metal shears, drill, screws, et voila.
Monday, September 7, 2020
I was writing about birds flying into the Rolling Steel Tent when, as if on cue, this thing buzzed in. At first I thought it was a hummingbird, but then… AWK! It wasn't aggressive, so I shot photos then shooed it away. Lou identified the creature. “Oh, yeah, that’s a tarantula hawk. I’ve seen others around here.”
I googled tarantula hawk and came up with an article that warned, “If this wasp stings you, just lie down and start screaming.”
So, what might I do with this can? Hmmmm…
A large dragonfly must’ve flown in the window when I was driving, hit something, broke itself, and died in the Rolling Steel Tent. When I discovered it I tossed it out on the ground. Within two seconds a grackle appeared and flew away it, probably thinking, “Why are you throwing away perfectly good food?”
Whatever form of navigation birds use—sun, magnetic field, astrolabe—it must shut down when they fly into the Rolling Steel Tent. They’re unable to find the way they came in. At first I thought it was just a hummingbird problem, but some sort of larger bird was freaking out this morning. What’s the avian equivalent of an exit sign?
Doves are nesting at Lou’s place. I love their soft coo-coo coooooo.
Sunday, September 6, 2020
The Rolling Steel Tent was bare inside when I had an aftermarket stereo installed. Six speakers and a subwoofer. It’s great for blasting road tunes. Born! To! Be! Wiiiiiiild! Born! To! Be! Wiiiiiiiiiiiild!
Six years ago, all of a sudden, it decided to not turn on. I checked the fuses (one in the van circuitry, one that’s part of the custom installation). They were fine. Then the stereo worked again. Removing and reinserting the main fuse disconnected then reconnected the power, resetting something or other, making the world right again. Except I had to redo all my presets. Yay electronics.
I had to do this fuse hokey-pokey a few times that year. Then it stopped requiring it for a while. Then it happened once more and was good for the past several years. Until yesterday. Why now? I have no clue. Maybe there’s a song it doesn’t like.