Archive for January, 2007

Washoe County and the Black Rock

It starts with the updateed Destinations Washoe County and then the resource page for the Black Rock Desert and that then leads to a photo gallery of the Black Rock Desert and Soldier Meadows

See the photo gallery! Keep in mind that, once you get past Gerlach, the roads trend towards dirt and are not for the casual tourist. See Gerlach NV to Cedarville, CA for photos of the Northwest route out. Now all we need is the Denio to Lakeview stretch for the northern section. For that, you might check the BLM sites Sheldon Hart Mtn NWR and Sheldon-Hart Mtn NWRC.

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What’s an Ione?

Maybe it’s time to ask Don. About September.

Also: Don’t forget the SNU February luncheon and a quintessential Nevada truck stop experience – the Truck Inn in Fernley February 17, 2007

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Looking for an alternative to cable TV?

6 alternatives to help you ditch cable television » FloppyHead – A Media Center, Digital Video Recorder, and HTPC Resource might provide some ideas. Some might be useful for those out on the road where the cable can get awfully long …

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Stuck with a math problem? is a homework help tool. All sorts of topics, choose one, answers often provided as an image of a page with the solution worked out and illustrated.

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LevelAir Bags ceases production?

It appears that the guy who was making air bags to level trailers has stopped production. One idea is to make your own. See Open Roads Forum: Travel Trailers: air levelers. Dale’s got pictures and says

You can find the flat hose at any large hydraulic and hose shop, check the yellow book. You might want to take a picture with you. I used 2 pieces of 1″ channel for the ends with 1/4″ nuts and bolts about every 2″. I got the bolt in valve stem at the auto parts store.

so find a shop with some hose and get to it! can’t be that hard, can it?

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The MBCU Folks

More photo galleries of the MBCU folks in action!

Here’s Virginia Leipper and Abby. See the galleries MBCU 1990’s and  MBCU Coloma 1992

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Windows Vista, should you?

Microsoft is releasing its latest update to Windows at the end of January. The effort behind this is the best money can buy applied over more than 4 years to satisfy customer requests and complaints. As always, there is a lot of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) mongering among the cynics. Vista will be replacing XP on new machines.

While there does not appear to be any pressing need for an XP user to upgrade, there are a few features that might be useful for the RV enthusiast with a laptop using WiFi networking. These include a completely re-written network core, better sleep and hibernation functioning, and better security for data and use.

To get an idea of what is going on, view the Mini-glossary: Windows Vista terms you should know to look through the words and acronyms that describe Vista features and what they mean.

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Sense on speed limits

The Arizona DOT has a very good rundown on Speed Limits that addresses issues of what is safe, how speed limits are set, and common myths.

Realistic speed limits are a traffic engineering tool used to derive the best traffic service for a given set of roadway conditions. This summary tells what realistic speed limits will do, what they won’t do, and how they are established.

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About getting pulled out of a nasty situation

Every now and then you might find yourself stuck. Whether it is on a sandy beach or a snow covered drive, there are things to do to get moving again. Some things help, some are dangerous, and some just keep you busy. Pirate4x4.Com – Extreme Four Wheel Drive can help you figure out how to pull yourself out safely.

I decided to do this article because of the overwhelming number of incredibly dangerous things I see people do during vehicle recovery – in my own club, in magazines, and in pictures on the ‘net. This is another one of those area’s where there is an incredible amount of misinformation out there – and you know how I HATE misinformation.

so what’s the key? First is to be aware that you are dealing with lethal forces. This means care and knowledge are absolute necessities. The page starts with a nice glossary of terms with pictures. Then on to the concept of the weakest link, figuring forces, wire rope, chains, and other hardware.

The page is technical and has a lot of good resources cited for further information.

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Self cleaning chinaware?

A few entries back was the note about self cleaning underwear (SNUZE » Blog Archive » Self cleaning underwear?). Now there is word about the possibility of self cleaning china at The Engineer Online.

A Dutch scientist has used a femtosecond laser to give plastic a self-cleaning surface like that of a lotus leaf, which is so effective cups made of it may not need to be washed after use.

It is innovation and invention like this that is making our boondocking much more comfortable than Daniel Boone‘s.

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Keeping up with the checkbook

If you are on the lookout for tips, tricks, and ideas that help you keep expenses in line with income and getting the most for your money, check The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Three Sites You Need To Read Edition. This post will lead you to four weblogs that you can track to keep up with your checkbook.

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Winter storms strand motorists in Texas

It is one thing to get stranded on I-5 waiting for a storm to pass and the road over the Siskiyou‘s to get cleared. But I-10 in Texas? See Winter storm closes I-10, strands motorists in West Texas – and Storm leaves 55 dead, thousands shivering –

Motels get full and travelers often find themselves on the floor of an armory or other public facility when this happens. It may take several days to get the road cleared. With your own RV you can be a bit more comfortable, but only if you are prepared. A first part of that preparation is to respect winter weather and what it can do.

Update: Driving Safely On Icy Roads, AAA’s Robert Sinclair Offers Expert Advice – CBS News and its reference “For much more on this from AAA, click here

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Fifty year anniversary for the electric wristwatch

TCS Daily – Wrist Action – Wear a wrist watch? The era of the modern watch “started fifty years ago this month, in January 1957, in Lancaster, Pa., when the Hamilton Watch Co. introduced the Ventura – the first electric watch.” This was an electro-mechanical masterpiece that was quickly succeeded by the electronic variety. The Bulova Accutron watch showed up in 1960 to show the way towards wrist computers to tell time.

A key to the accuracy of modern timepieces is from the work of Warren Marrison at Bell Labs who built the first quartz crystal clock in 1927. It wasn’t until 1967 that the Swiss put this electronic mechanism in a watch but it was the Japanese who had a consumer product two years later. The digital watch showed up in 1972.

For an interesting story about this history of a technology we take for granted, see Ralph’s column at TCS.

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Andy Thompson on towing

Andy is one of the Can Am RV folks in Ontario who knows a lot about setting up towing rigs from actual experience and experiment. He posted several messages on RV.Net before he got hounded out by the zealots. If you are looking for sound advice on towing myths and understanding towing handling, check these posts.

“Our Store has been installing custom made hitches and setting up tow vehicles since 1970. We began to seriously experiment with smaller vehicles in 1977 when the first downsizing of full size cars occurred. We were as shocked as anyone when we discovered that a smaller car with a smaller engine actually outperformed and definitely out handled the previous models.”

These links go through the Trailer Life access to the forums

Towing “Myths” and “Urban Legends” – about the wheelbase rule of thumb, LT tires, SUV’s for towing, manufacture tow limits rule, Hensley hitches, overdrive, suspension components, half vs 3/4 ton towers, towing speeds,

Towing “Myths” and “Urban Legends” – the issue of factory warranty on equipping and towing tow vehicles

Chrysler 300C towing a 28′ Air Stream – looking for sanity and sense in safe towing.

Take a look at the rest of these threads as well and you can find a lot to help you understand how to make your experience a safe experience.

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Lost pets

When you take your pet with you, there is always a worry that the pet might get lost on the road. reports that Dogs Get Found, Cats Stay Lost.

The findings, published in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, found that while 71 percent of lost dogs in the Dayton, Ohio, area were reunited with their owners, only 53 percent of lost cats ended up back at home.

The reason appears to be that dogs are more likely to have identification on them that helps make the connection between dog and owner. So there are several things to do to make sure a lost pet doesn’t stay lost. First is to make sure your pet carries identification and second is to let people know you are missing a pet.

Identification means both a microchip and a collar tag. On cats, especially, people may not think to look for a microchip. It also appears that there are different flavors of microchip and that may cause difficulty in identifying and reading them. Redundancy by having both chip and collar tag increases the odds that your pet will be identified as lost and a reunion made possible.

Notify people in the area in which the pet was lost and the nearby animal shelter that you are looking for your pet and need help. The shelter may dispose of a pet if it isn’t aware that it is being sought. Local residents will often keep a look out for you, too.

And always, take precautions to keep your pet from getting lost in the first place. This means always keeping the animal under leash or otherwise constrained. Watch out for unlatched doors and for surprise circumstances that may cause a bolt. Be prepared.

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Ice storms, be prepared

The Dallas To Chicago corridor is one any trans-national trip must cross. In winter, it is also the battleground between dry and cold Canadian artic air and wet and warm gulf air. The result can make for very bad driving conditions.

The current conditions are an extreme example. If you can’t get off the road and hunker down for a while, you need to be prepared and take precautions. RV News Magazine reports on NAPA Advises Drivers on How to Avoid Winter Driving Mishaps

While hitting a NAPA repair facility for a checkout isn’t really necessary, you do need to make sure your equipment is in top notch condition.

Below are crucial tips for winter drivers to keep in mind:

  • Keep lots of distance between you and the car ahead.
  • Slow down considerably before going into a curve.
  • Try to avoid having to stop while driving up a hill.
  • Start braking sooner, especially when driving toward an intersection. The constant stopping and starting of cars causes the snow to pack and the intersection to become slick.

NAPA recommends equipping vehicles with the following basic, but essential winter supplies:

  • Snow shovel
  • Ice scraper with snowbrush on one end
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Abrasive material to help with traction (sand, cat litter, salt or traction mats)
  • Jumper cables
  • Candles, matches or lighter and high-energy food (chocolate or dried fruit is always good)
  • Warning device (flares or reflective triangles)
  • Winter clothes, boots, sleeping bags and blankets
  • First-aid supplies

Keep in mind that what you do carry may need protection from freezing. You can go through propane and battery in a hurry if camping in cold weather. So, if you must, be prepared, take precautions, and enjoy winter in whatever way you can.

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A 1996 Trip to Western Canada and Calgary

October is getting rather late in the year to head up US 395 and then back through Glacier National Park. Snow, Elk, color, scenery, what a trip!
See the photo gallery – Western Canada tour

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More MBCU folks

Here are two photo galleries featuring the MBCU members in Monerey and in Reno. Some had to stay in the car.
See the galleries

Airstream rally Monterey Bay CA Unit 1989


Monterey Bay Ca Unit, WBCCI in Reno, NV (black and white photographs)

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E Bay tips (for sellers)

A lot of folks are using E-Bay to find esoteric stuff, get rid of unwanted stuff, or even to run a shop to earn some dough. Business Week presented a few tips for sellers in EBay Sellers Go Back to School: 10 Tips. These can also help buyers make effective use of the service by understanding what sellers are doing. Don’t forget to check the comments at then end of the entry, too.

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Living the lifestyle: the Mayer’s

Jack & Danielle Mayer have a website about the RV lifestyle with an HDT and 5th Wheel. So, if you are curious about the full time lifestyle with a heavy duty tow vehicle and a big trailer, they have a site worth cruisin’.

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