Thursday, October 15, 2015

Roadtrip Day 098

Roadtrip Day 098

10/14 Wednesday

Rhododactylos eos! How I despise thee. I am not a morning person.

Woke early to a car horn. Gail’s neighbor was checking on us to see why we were here. It would have been an interesting chat if I’d been more awake. He told me this whole area was named for the mesas which are called Hawk’s Nest in Navajo. I wish I’d been more alert to listen carefully to his pronunciation. Navajo is a very melodic language.

Back to sleep after that and just getting moving, a bit after 10AM. Some oatmeal will get us started today. The local birds, maybe doves (haven’t seen them while they were on our outside and we were on the inside), have decided that we’re part of the scenery and started hanging out on the trailer early this morning. Pretty amusing. However, I didn’t hear any long coyote chorus last night. Maybe they were over the next ridge.

Amusing side note while drinking my morning tea. We like PG Tips brand. In the novel I’m reading now, the writer is one of those guys who hasta name-drop everything. The protagonist drives a Lotus, wears bespoke suits from somebody-I’ve-already-forgotten, and, TA-DA!, drinks only PG Tips. Hahahaha! Of course, what I’m drinking right now is $2/100-bags of no-name tea cuz there was no PG Tips at the supermarket where we last stopped. Yes, $2 for 100 bags. It’s not terrible but even Lipton seems refined comparatively. Of course, I doctor mine so much with sugar and lemon (or lemonade powder) that it’s less noticeable for me. Ronnie has a harder time with it.

I’m gonna take this opportunity to describe our living arrangement for those who don’t necessarily grok how popup tent trailers work. For travel, it’s a box about 10’ long and 7’ wide. It sits maybe 4’ tall (overall on its wheels) when collapsed for travel. The tongue at the front holds two propane canisters and 1 deep-cycle battery. We have another deep-cycle battery in reserve. The tongue hitches to the receiver hitch on our Honda minivan and we ease on down the road. Unlike those huge, half-millon-dollar, Class A diesel pusher RVs getting 5 MPG, we still get 20MPG or better. We checked a few tanks of gas ago and got 22.25MPG. I’m very happy with that for towing our “house” along with us at freeway speed or up and down crappy, little dirt roads.

The magic happens when we find a camping spot and open it up. First we level it in roll (left-right elevation) by putting risers under the tire on the low side. Camping stores sell fancy plastic risers. We have several short 1X6 boards with a 45-degree bevel on one end. One board equals one bubble off plumb. (The trailer has one bubble level for roll and one for pitch.) Once we’re level in roll, we unhitch from the car and get ready to open up. First task is to adjust pitch. Once the car is out of the way, we run the front support shaft (with a wheel) on the tongue up or down to obtain a level fore and aft (pitch). Second task is the fridge. The fridge can accept any of 3 inputs: 120vAC, 12vDC, or propane. While travelling, we have it on 12vDC. When we stop, it’s much cheaper (in terms of power and cost) to run it on propane; so our first task is to turn off the 12v input and turn on the propane.

Now it’s time for our mechanical flower to open. We unsnap the clamps which hold the top down when travelling and crank the top up for standing-room height inside the trailer. Then we crank down four support feet at the corners. The main box is fiberglass with aluminum framing and so that top we just cranked up is solid. Now we can pull out the tent ends, which are solid base but tent fabric for top and sides. The tent end on the front is a king-sized bed (nominally, not quite so in reality). The one at the rear is queen-sized, again, nominally. A coupla braces from the underside of each platform down to the metal bumpers for support. Then, inside the trailer, each end has a pole which mates to a hoop support to hold open the end of the popout and keep the roof up. Now, we’re 20’ long and about 10’ tall.

Each tent end has solid panels to zip up for privacy and/or warmth or permanent screening for ventilation on all three sides. The main box has screening, plastic zip-up windows, and curtains on both sides. Use any combination for fresh air, privacy, or insulation, as desired. (OK, not much insulation but better than just screen!) Inside the main (10’) box, the starboard side features 5’ of low cabinets aft, then a door (more on this later), then another low storage box of a coupla feet. The port side aft features a 6’ dinette which collapses for travel or to be used as a third bed and opens up into a 4-person dinette. Storage under the seats includes a 10-gallon watertank (with electric pump to the sink), a 30-amp electrical connector with a 20-amp adapter to connect to shore power (or our generator), and some space for our stuff. Forward of the dinette is the galley. The sink and stove rotate down into the “walkway” for travel and rotate up for camping. The minifridge is in the base, along with some storage space. The stove is a 2-burner, powered by the propane, as is the external attachable BBQ.

I mentioned the door. For travel, it attaches to the roof inside the trailer. When camping, you detach it from the roof, slip it into position, attach the top to the inside top of the trailer and velcro the upper sides to velcro strips on the upper door. The door’s upper half has a sliding solid piece with screen outside of it, so you can get ventilation or have privacy.

We also have a 10’ awning which is over the door side. It rolls out about 8’ for extra shade. In buggy areas, we have a “screen room” which attaches to the awning with velcro and has flaps and loops along the bottom to keep it grounded. On the trailer side, it velcros to the trailer body. That gives us another 8X10ish “room” when we wanna be outside but still want some sun and/or bug protection.

Getting ready to hit the road, is the reverse of setting up. Then we’re on to our next location.

So, back to action. After a lazy morning and a sandwich lunch, we hiked out to the river (bed) and hiked down it a way. Interesting walking down a wide, shallow, dry (sometimes) watercourse. Pretty hot in the sun and I enjoyed a nice sit-down in the shade and breeze upon our return.

Changed the oil in the genny. Pretty simple really, just needed an elevated spot for the genny and something sealable to catch the old oil. Easiest with two of us doing it. Put the genny on the icechest and the catchbasin below. Perfect. The genny came with a long, narrow, precise funnel to do the filling and draining and we used an empty juice container to catch the old oil. It got sealed up and will travel with us til the next time we pass an auto parts store or similar to recycle it. Should have done this a while back but we did it now, so… Beautiful clear, fresh oil now, in place of the old, black, well-used stuff. Genny is running happily right now. (grin)

Our stay here is driven/limited by not wanting to abuse Gail’s hospitality and the weather. If it rains, we’ll be stuck right here until the local drive and the main road dry hard again. Looking at the weather forecast, we’re thinking we’ll depart tomorrow (Thursday).

Beautiful sunset tonight with a few swirly clouds on the Western horizon picking up those delicious sunset colors. Bye, Apollo, Thanks for hauling that sun chariot across the sky just for our benefit. Nice of ya, bro! Hello, Mother Nox. What do you have in store for us? A coyote symphony would not be amiss. I’m just sayin’…


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