December 29, 2007

California Christmas

We spent this week camping on the bluffs over South Carlsbad Beach. This is the classic California beach, with surfers, pelicans, beach combing, and sunshine.

Andy brought his two buddies Kyle and Caleb, who had a blast playing football in the surf. On the first night, my folks and my brother came down for a not-so traditional Christmas campfire, dinner and gift exchange.

The beach is very rocky, and the sand has taken a black cast from the cobbles. This provides the perfect habitat for stingrays, so the boys had to learn how to do the stingray-shuffle to keep from getting stung as they walked in the water.

Sherry spent a lot of time combing through the surf and came home with pockets full of cool shells and stones.

We brought along the dogs, but they never got to go down to the surf. We'll have to save that for one of the beaches that allow dogs.

The extension cord I made for the caboose worked like a charm. After running the heater all night, I only needed to idle the truck for a half-hour to top off the battery. The LED lights helped too, but now that I know the extension works, I would probably put the bright light back over the stove.

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas Campers!

Thanks to Popup Portal for this fun image. This past year of camping wouldn't have been half as fun without those guys. They have some cool stuff in their gift shop too.

We had some pretty severe winds at home Christmas Eve. Our neighbor's tree blew over and totaled his work trailer. Even the axles are bent on this piece of scrap metal. We usually do alright in the windstorms. We're on the end of a long block and the wind blows down the street and over our house. We usually score a tarp or two, and this storm was no exception. I have a slightly wind-damaged 10x10 tarp to add to my collection. I wonder if all these tarps belong to the same guy upwind of us?

December 23, 2007

Putting the Ed in Edison

Our Caboose is probably one of the smallest popups made. There is no room for a bathroom, and there is certainly no room for an on-board generator. As we plan for longer trips, battery concerns have led me to investigate solar panels, extra batteries, and portable generators. There are some great tiny, low-noise generators out there, but their price could buy a lot of full hook-up campsites. The next lowest priced option is a second battery, but that is a heavy, lead and acid-filled anchor.

I'd considered just hooking the trailer up to the truck and idling for a while to charge the battery, but I have to disconnect the truck in order to setup the Caboose. Even if I could leave it hooked up, that is a lot of exhaust on the canvas. It was a guest at a Christmas party we went to last night that suggested building an extension cord to go between the truck and the Caboose. For just $16 in parts and about fifteen minutes in the garage, I now can have the truck twelve feet away from the Caboose. Sixteen bucks is a lot better than a $900 generator or even a $120 second battery that could still go dead. It worked in the driveway, and we'll give it a field test soon.

December 22, 2007

Modding Weekend

I finally had some time to putter around on the Caboose. We're planning on taking the dogs on our next trip, and Polly here is pretty arthritic. She had a tough time with the folding step at the door, so I built her this ramp out of a piece of 3/4" plywood and scrap carpet. I added some 2x2 lumber to the edges to cut down on the sagging. I milled the lumber into an El shape and gave it several coats of spray paint to match the trim on the Caboose.

I also added a kill switch for the heater next to our bed. Sherry likes to have things toasty when she goes to bed, and then cool while we sleep. Now I don't have to get out of bed to turn the heater off. Having this switch also helps me out in conserving propane. I disabled the red lamp in the switch because it was too distracting for sleeping. It was very simple to wire, I simply spliced into the thermostat leads and ran some wire through the cabinets and to the switch.

Lastly, I bought some larger LED replacements for the dome lights. I had tried some that just had nine LEDs and it was like working in a gold mine with a single candle. These are 36 LEDs per unit, so theoretically it should be like working in a gold mine with four candles. The units have a standard 1156 base so I can swap them out with a standard bulb when we have a site with full hook-ups. When we're going for a longer stay, these should substantially stretch the battery life. I'm thinking that I might get a double lens fixture and wire one side up with the LEDs and the other side with an incandescent bulb.

December 9, 2007

Not Exactly Camping, But...

We just got back from a road trip to Arizona with my mom and brother. On the way back, we stopped by the General George S. Patton Memorial Museum at the site of Camp Young, which was a training center for desert warfare in WWII. They have several tanks out in the desert surrounding the museum. As roadside museums go, this one was pretty good, and I didn't feel my $4 admission was wasted.

Andy has bugged me to take a couple of his buddies camping out in the desert so they can play airsoft wars. The museum is just twelve miles from Cottonwood Springs campground at Joshua Tree National Park. I'm betting we'll be out there sometime this spring. The campground is one of only two at Joshua Tree with running water and flush toilets. I can't let them shoot airsoft guns in the monument, but we can easily find a place in the BLM desert that will fit their simulated warfare quest.

December 1, 2007

Adios San Elijo

Reluctantly, we had to cancel our reservations for San Elijo State Beach in two weeks - just too many things going on this month. Jeff, one of the railfans that hangs out at the Fullerton Depot, has raved about the campground. There are great ocean views; a Starbucks and a gourmet market across the tracks; and a local breakfast spot is known for its large portions, good prices, surf movies, and the motto: "No Shoes, No Shirt... No Problem !!" We'll get there soon.

November 12, 2007

San Clemente Weekend

We took advantage of the holiday weekend to head to the beach. We stayed two nights, without hookup at San Clemente State Beach. My folks went with us, and Sherry's dad came down and visited for a little while on Sunday.

Andy unleashed his creative spirit with a cool mosaic in the sand made from pebbles and tree bark. Later, we walked down the bluff trail to the surf and explored the tide pools during low tide. There were starfish and urchins and no camera with us.

We had a bit of a scare when our dog-sitter called and said he thought someone was in our house Sunday night. Andy and I drove home to check things out and every thing was just fine. We couldn't say bye to the dogs again, so we took them to the beach with us. They were bushed, but, it made us want to try taking them on a trip with us soon (it is just so crowded with our stuff and 100 pounds of dogs!).

We did our usual check of the campsites and decided that the hookup sites at San Clemente are not something we'd be interested in. The dry sites rate three out of five tents, and site 88 on this bluff over the ocean is a four, just for the sounds of the surf and incredible view of the sunset. The only thing keeping it from a five is the lack of hookups.

We checked out San Onofre State Beach, and while it is just a wide spot along the old highway, they allow dogs on the beach, making it worthy of consideration. We liked sites 145, 115 and 116.

San Mateo Campground is on Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and has some hookups. It is a short drive to the beach, and not much else to do in camp. Our favorite sites there are 28, 66 and 67.

Lastly, we checked out Doheny State Beach and Sherry was very excited about the proximity of the campsites to the surf. No bluffs to hike down, just sand between the campfire ring and the water. Our favorite sites are, in order, odd numbered sites 93-73 (except 79), and odd sites 43-33.

October 27, 2007

Firestorm Burns Down

With a break in the weather, came a break in the fires. It looks like most of the fires will be contained by Tuesday. My friends who were evacuated are now back home.

I worked a shift in the Emergency Operations Center last night and saw first hand the destruction of the man made, and the renewal of the natural. Most people never consider that fire ecology is the ecology of southern California. We don't have 40" of rain every year to rot and decay the dead plants. We have fire. The carbon cycle is how carbon-based life forms are renewed. That renewal comes through gradual decomposition, or quick-burning fire.

October 24, 2007

Dogwood Safe, Green Valley Cooked

This map is from It shows the Slide Fire burn as of this evening. Green Valley Campground is in the top right corner of the donut hole. Clearly, it is within the burn zone. Their map of the Dogwood area makes it look like it is unburned.

October 23, 2007

Fire Update

The news on the fires is not good. I won't try to duplicate the news reports here, but my buddy and his family have made their last update from the mountain. They were evacuated last night.

In looking at the fire maps, Dogwood Campground is within the fire perimeter and I have to suspect it was involved, if not consumed. The Strawberry Peak lookout is also within the fire area.

Green Valley Lake area got so bad that they pulled the emergency personnel out of the area for their safety. They expect to lose over 400 homes there. From the fire maps, the Campground is suspected consumed.

It is completely selfish of me to think about these campgrounds when so many homes and businesses have been lost to these fires. 113 homes have been lost so far to the Grass Valley Fire, and 25 in the Slide Fire.

October 22, 2007

Another Fire

That windstorm last weekend only got worse and turned into a firestorm. So far 128 homes in the area have burned. The fire-line is walking distance from our campsite. I got an email from a buddy who lives in the area: Lake Arrowhead and surrounding areas are under mandatory evacuation. Homeowners in Twin Peaks are calling 911 because the fire has reached their homes, or they are now on fire. The homeowners are being told to just get out as best as they can. There are no more available resources. Dozens, if not hundreds, of homes have burned, or are going to burn. We will have no air support today, and resources are spread too thin. Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout was evacuated this morning, and the tower will be closed until further notice. Most of the Lake Arrowhead and Cedar Pines Park area are without power. Areas are also without water pressure due to the power outages. There may be a power shut down of the entire mountain in a few minutes due to continuing power lines coming down.

October 21, 2007

Busy Weekend

We just got back from a weekend at Dogwood. Well, kind of a weekend at Dogwood. Sherry had a meeting Saturday morning, so Andy and I went and set everything up on Friday night. As we were setting up, we could hear a marching band nearby. Dogwood is walking distance from Rim of the World High School and they were having a varsity football game against the Diamondbacks (who trounced them 45-7). We enjoyed the game, caught some zees and drove home Saturday morning for a shower and to pick up Sherry.

On our way back up the mountain, we stopped at the huge RV show at the fairgrounds. There was a bunch of cool rigs to drool over, but nothing worth mortgaging the house over. We did spend some money in the accessories tent. We got some gadgets and gizmos and a cool fitted picnic table cover.

We got back into camp in the afternoon and then headed into Blue Jay for groceries and dinner. Because there was a campfire restriction, we decided to spend some time in town before an evening hike around the campground. This is a gorgeous campground that reminds me very much of Sequoia National Park. The Valley Oaks and Cypress trees outnumber the pines. The hookup sites are all pretty nice, but Site 89 has the best combination of level, view, and proximity to flush bathrooms.

One of the things I really like about our trailer is that it was very easy for Andy and I to move it around the campsite to get it just right. In this case, turning the trailer ninety degrees to the front eliminated the slope and oriented the door to the picnic table and campfire ring.

Just before midnight Saturday night, the temperature dropped to freezing and we were getting 40 mph gusts. At dawn on Sunday, Sherry and I walked to the bathroom and watched everyone who was camping in tents packing it up. We lasted a little longer. We ate breakfast burritos as we watched pine cones swirling around in dust devils. We packed it up and were on the road by 9AM.

October 5, 2007

Stupid Trailer Mod

My buddy Jake just forwarded these photos of a trailer accident waiting to happen. Incredible.

September 30, 2007

Movies on the Beach

We just got back from a quick weekend at Newport Dunes. It is a resort atmosphere with quarter-million dollar RVs everywhere you look. They put the Clampetts (AKA popup campers) in the back row. Our space was literally 16'x25' of decomposed granite, a picnic table and a vine covered chain link fence between us and the next campers. We were lucky that they were all quiet folks, but the wrong neighbors would have really spoiled the weekend. It was $68 for the night which gave us cable TV, full hookup, and access to the pool, bay, etc. The thing that made it the most fun was they set up this giant inflatable screen and we sat in the sand with a couple hundred campers and watched a movie. I told Sherry it was like sleeping in a parking lot. As long as you went with the idea that you were going to spend your time in the "resort" and just sleep in the parking lot, it was nice. We'll definitely go again next year just for the nice beach and movie.

September 17, 2007

Heading for the Desert

Looks like this will be the last post on the Butler 2 fire for a while. It seems to be moving out of the timber and into the desert, away from camping areas. Again, our thoughts and prayers for those impacted by this fire, and a hero's thanks to those fighting the fight. If you haven't read the quotes from the scanner, I think it gives an incredible glimpse into what they're facing. One of my favorite quotes today was one of the pilots, accidentally dropping retardant and announcing, "We're gonna need a cleanup on isle 18!" Just a few minutes later another pilot said, "just had an engine failure, over the lake, going to put it in the field" then "I think we just had an engine failure in one of the SEATS." He then put the plane down in a meadow and walked away (he may have been walking funny).

September 16, 2007

Fire Imaging

I found this cool, err, hot website that combines thermal imaging with Google satellite photos. Here is the fire at 2:00 PM this afternoon. I added the labels and scale for this capture.

9PM Fire Update

I just got this photo from Holcomb Valley showing the fire burning to the north of the stables. If the wind changes, things could get a little warm over there. I've been listening to the scanner and some of the comments were pretty interesting:

  • 10:50 am Had to pull out of 2N13
  • 11:00 am That piece north of Butler it’s going to be touch and go with those structures for a while.
  • 11:02 am Gel these buildings at Camp Whittle
  • 11:02 am Cannot get out of Big Pine; tried two different routes
  • 11:02 am Once we get the gel on we’re pulling out to Fawnskin
  • 11:02 am The fire jumped our triggers about 10 minutes ago and we called mandatory evac at Fawnskin
  • 11:04 am Structure triage; main priority is no one gets hurt
  • 11:05 am Direct marching orders, pretreat and leave; have a good lookout and know where your safety zones are
  • 11:10 am made two attempts to get out of Big Pine Flat through 2N13; we’re looking at a map to try to figure out how to get out of here; it will take us way out of the way
  • 12:15 pm a sudden wind shift could cause involvement in Fawnskin; fire broke Holcomb Valley where it drops; fire is spotting ahead 3/4 mile at times
  • 12:32 pm fire is coming back on that corner; may not be able to do a gel op; if you can safely do it, do it; fire to the ballfield to the left, that and to the south; making sure you are talking and make sure we know where all our resources are; make sure when we pull out we pull out with everybody
  • 12:40 pm Fire has gone through Camp Whittle; making run to east instead of north
  • 12:40 pm fire is running unchecked to the north and west; 40K to fly over camps and order evacuations, mandatory, of the camps; the tankers are focusing on Fawnskin side to save that contingency
  • 1:01 pm pretty active fire on 3N14; getting someone to protect our escape route
  • 2:14 pm Helco is afraid the fire is hooking up over you there in Fawnskin; hooking to the east above you about ½ mile or so; that is the priority. Just pulled the guys off for the moment; afraid it would be smoke in and we’re afraid we couldn’t
  • 2:15 pm Lines down where that Hazmat shed is; do not know if the lines are energized or not; just roll-call them and let them know
  • 4:52 pm Helicopter had to pull out of a drop; "just too smokey in there"
  • 7:15 pm Air Attack wrapping up; We got our butt’s kicked today. Tomorrow should be interesting.
  • 9:16 am Could you please ask the kitchen to stay open until 11:00, or have them prepare meals for about 40 folks and set them aside; these folks haven't had a hot meal in quite awhile now, and I'd appreciate it.
  • 9:52 am We've got an engine crew here that has been on the line for about 24 hours, can we get them released?
  • 10:14 am We're gonna get out of here for awhile; they're bombing the you-know-what out of things here, and we'll come back when things calm down.
  • 11:24 am I'm out here chasing rabbits in the desert.
  • 11:49 am It's all we can do to hold the back of this; if we start sending stuff to the head, we don't want to lose what we've got going on here. If you pull from this we're going to lose what we've got.
  • 11:50 am One strike team type 3 to protect a boy scout camp, at 3N12 and 3N16. We'll see what we can find but I can't guarantee it.
  • 12:07 pm large snag on fire up here; no containment; unsafe for hand crews only; need air support; fire behind us at the west aspect; fire in front of us on the ridge; we need some heavy duty air support in here or this whole canyon is going to go.
  • 12:12 pm Stand by. We need to back out; we're getting a lot of heavy flames in here.
  • 12:28 pm Unfortunately we are losing it up near Fawnskin. We're going to have to pull the ships and move them there. If that's the case we're probably going to lose what we're working on and we'll have to back out of here. Probably going to lose the back door anyway.
  • 1:20 pm I'm going to safely say yes; I don't think we're going to be able to hold this.
  • 2;47 pm dropping way too high for the penetration in that area, you need to drop it down about another 200 feet.
  • 3:15 pm Be advised we may have some severe activity heading our way; make sure you're in your safe areas and you're all accounted for.
  • 3:21 pm I need you to start to Cactus Flats OHV area for a fractured leg.
  • 3:56 pm I got a lot of sidewind out of that, the airplane even went sideways.
  • 4:50 pm the fire is deep seated in pile of manure. We're going to have to do an overhaul on this.
  • 5:16 pm nice prominent ridge by the dam, that may be something to think about, put 9-10 tankers there so it doesn't go into the neighborhood. If it gets beyond there we'll be screwed, because we'll be dealing with retardant & water.
  • 6:09 pm I think we've got this stopped, but it's going to go all the way to the road no matter if we want it to or not.
  • 6:51 pm Heavies have one more drop and they have to go, they are over time. Please pass along my regards and those ground troops really appreciate them; they did an outstanding job out there today. Pass it along to all your partners. Thanks again and be safe.

12:00 Fire Update

I've been listening to the radio traffic from the fire fighters and air tankers, and I just heard them ask for trucks to protect a Boy Scout Camp. I called Paul to see what was going on at Holcomb Valley and he told me that they evacuated 65 horses from the camp. The smoke is very dense and the fire is burning their direction. This photo above is from a firefighter with a GPS transmitter. The dots show his various locations. I added some other descriptions to the photo for reference. Click on it for a larger view.

In this photo taken across the lake and looking north, you can see the solar observatory next to Serrano Campground. Holcomb Valley is four miles directly behind that observatory. From the radio traffic, it sounds like they're not going to get a handle on this fire for several days.

Butler 2 Fire Update

I'm the first to admit that this posting is purely selfish. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who are incredibly impacted by this fire, but this post is really just an update on the fire and its potential impact on our camping. On the bright side, if we get some rain this winter, there should be some great wildflowers next spring.

This map is from the Riverside Press Enterprise newspaper. It shows the fire boundary as of last night. I added the locations of our favorite campgrounds for that selfish perspective. One of our long-time friends is the Ranger at the Holcomb Valley Scout Reservation which is currently in the line of fire. Last night at nearby Camp Whittle, several buildings were lost to the fire.

This photo was taken by a local pilot for the Big Bear Grizzly. I added the pointers to give some perspective to this vantage point. The smoke trail extends past Las Vegas.

September 15, 2007

Fire in the Mountains

It can take a whole book of matches to light a campfire, but only a careless match to light a forest fire. I got an email alert from the Lookout team on Friday that smoke was spotted near the Butler Peak lookout near Big Bear Lake. Within an hour it had grown to 20 acres, and as I write this, it is over 14,000 acres and burning strong. They have mandatory evacuations from Green Valley to Serrano and burning behind the town of Fawnskin towards Holcomb Valley. The media has decent coverage, but the InciWeb coverage is the best.

On a happier note, Andrew and I escaped to Disney's California Adventure on Friday and had a great time. We did all our favorite rides, sometimes twice.

August 26, 2007

End of Summer

Next weekend is the official end of the summer, but we're just gearing up for our fall camping season.

We won't be camping until next month and we figured the crowds were going to be reasonable at Disneyland so we ventured over to the Happiest Place on Earth on Friday night. We were wrong about the crowds, but Friday night is date night so the stroller population is relatively low. On a Sunday, your ankles don't stand a chance as the strollers outnumber pedestrians. What ever happened to rubber-baby-buggy-bumpers?

Our end of summer garage sale was rained out today. We've had only 4.01" of rain during the last year and Mother Nature waited till we dragged everything onto the driveway to give us some rain. At least we weren't camping when it happened.

August 18, 2007

On the Lookout

Today was the last Saturday of my vacation and I spent it by myself, doing some errands and a couple detours. Our friends Paul and Linda live and work at a Scout camp, and they just moved to Holcomb Valley Scout Reservation. I was on my way up to visit them, when Paul called to say he was going to be late. I decided to kill some time and go check out the campsites at Dogwood (in order, the best were 26, 21-24, 85-87).

I made a wrong turn leaving the campground (it happens) and saw a sign for the Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout. When I got to the base, a man in the tower leaned over the rail and invited me up to the top. I learned that the lookout is staffed entirely by volunteers, who work two, four-hour shifts a month during fire season. When he told me that if your shifts are an evening followed by a morning, you can spend the night in the tower, I immediately filled out an interest card. The orientation will take place in the Spring.

I finally made it out to Holcomb, and it looked just as it did when I was through there almost 30 years ago! In 1978, I was working in the Youth Conservation Corps, doing sagebrush eradication in the Holcomb Valley. The camp is just about six miles away from our favorite USFS campground, Serrano. Of course that six miles is on one kidney-puncher of a jeep trail (2N09), but we can camp at Serrano and then drive up to Holcomb for the rifle, shotgun or archery ranges, climbing tower, horseback riding, and of course, visiting with friends.

August 16, 2007

Pizza is Ready

Who can sleep in this heat? I stayed in the A/C and got our reservations for September, October and November. In the cooler evening air, I added some wood dividers to the under-seat storage areas on the Caboose. I also modified a 16mm deep socket to use a drill for lifting the roof without turning the crank sixty-seven times. While surfing the net, I found a great use for a pizza delivery bag -- storing the BAL leveler and the accessories. Pretty cool.

August 13, 2007

Tubing on the Kern River

We just got back from a four-day trip (without the Caboose) to the Upper Kern River. We stayed at a USFS campground called Hospital Flat. The campground was essentially just a wide spot in the road with some pit toilets and the most poison oak I've ever seen in one spot. In this first photo, the plants surrounding our tent are 16' tall poison oak bushes.

We went with our friends Todd, Jodie and their clan. The primary reason to stay at this campground was to ride the rapids on inner-tubes.

Andrew was a mad man, doing flips off a ten-foot boulder into the flowing river below. The kids spent hours running up the road and then floating over rapids and waterfalls. Those of us with less of a need for adventure were content to wade in the river while the trout swam between our legs.

If we were to go again, we would want to stay in site 35, which was far enough from the river to avoid hearing the screams, shrieks and roar of the river, but still close enough to get to the action. There was also a fire ring, stand-up barbecue and plenty of parking for the truck and Caboose. Most importantly - no poison oak! As on all our trips, food played a major role in our entertainment with chorizo, potatoes and eggs for breakfast, and an apple-berry cobbler in the dutch oven after the campfire.

August 6, 2007

Shedding Some Light

We always seem to leave for our trips on Friday after work, so we usually get to the campsite after dark. Since the Caboose doesn't have reverse lights, there never seems to be enough light for backing.

I scoured the 'net looking for ideas and saw everything from magnetic mount lamps, to bumper mounted fog lamps. I went to my trailer to check the wiring possibilities and discovered that the red lens easily pops off when I depress the little tab with my thumbnail.

I stood there checking out the wires when I suddenly realized, I was staring at a white light bulb! All I need to do for backup lights is pop the lenses off and toss them on top of the PUP for a few minutes. What could be cheaper than that?

August 4, 2007

More Heat, More Mods

It is still screaming hot outside, so we're still not camping. It didn't stop me from working on an easy mod. There are snaps and straps holding the door for stowage, and when the door is in place, the straps serve no purpose. I took a 24" dowel and added snaps to each end. Now, when the door is installed, I can snap the dowel in place and have a place for paper towels above the galley, and maybe some jackets (when we're not cooking inside).

While I was at the new Lowes in town, I saw this Hunter thermostat on sale for ten bucks. It fit perfectly into the recess and should take care of the problem we had during the cool spring days. It did feel a little ironic to be sweating like a dog while installing a new heater control.

July 29, 2007

Seasonal Mods

I've come to realize that while the rest of the Country waits for summer to go camping, in the Southwest, we wait for the other three seasons. We're still getting triple digit temperatures and air conditioning is key to survival.

Instead of camping, I finished the drop-down counter/cabinet door for the galley. The door is made of ash with a light maple stain to closely match the rest of the cabinets. I put coats of polyurethane on the inside counter-top for easy clean up. The wood is supported with locking toy-box hinges from Rockler.

While shopping at Big Lots, I found a toilet tissue holder for $3 that makes a great trash bag holder to hang over the LP detector.

We're heading for the Kern River in a couple weeks for a long weekend of tent camping with some friends. The Caboose is staying home for that trip, so I need to go shopping for an air mattress.

July 2, 2007

Havin a Heat Wave

With temperatures in the triple digits, we decided to cancel our reservations for camping at Dogwood this weekend. All the beach sites have long been booked for the holiday weekend, so we'll hang out at the pool and maybe have a campfire in the back yard.

June 23, 2007

New Counter Experiment

I mentioned previously that I didn't like the counter top mod. It was too hard to use the storage underneath so this weekend I tried it as a drop down counter instead. I'm not sure I'm going to like it either, so I didn't bother staining and varnishing the wood yet. We'll try it on our trip to Dogwood next month and we'll decide then. If we don't like it, I think the next trial is a recessed paper towel holder on the right side and a drawer on the left side. Too many more screw holes and the fascia is going to look like pegboard.

June 13, 2007

Bike Rack

So far, most of the campgrounds have been too hilly to enjoy riding the bikes. When we did take the bikes, the storage space in the bed of the truck was compromised. None of the commercial bike racks met my needs of cheap and clear of the Caboose, so I had to make my own. This rack uses a scaffolding of 2x4 lumber to support some off-the-shelf bike stands held on with u-bolts. I'll be testing it out with a drive to the police station for new bicycle licenses.

June 10, 2007

Green Valley Lake

We just spent the last two nights up at Green Valley campground with my mom and one of Andrew's buddies, Joey. The great thing about this camp is that there is a private lake just a few minutes away and for $2 a kid, there is a clean beach with a lifeguard. They get an ankle band that allows them to go in and out all day. It is a great bargain and a great campground.

We checked out all the sites (as usual) and decided that #36 is the best, and if we have companion campers, site 37 too. Site #9 is very good, followed by #15 and finally 14. There are clean flush toilets, but no showers.

My mom pointed out that since Dogwood campground is managed by the same company, after a fifteen-minute drive you could shower at that campground. Mom was a little freaked out when the tree over our campsite started raining bark beetle larvae. I'll admit that it was a little distressing, but just part of the great outdoors.

Joey got to experience one of the rights of passage for a young boy: he learned how to light an Ohio Blue Tip match on his zipper. I'm sure it is something he'll share with his own kids someday.

As usual, we ate like royalty this trip. We stopped at the Spaghetti Factory on the way up, and then had a cheeseburger feast on Saturday. Sherry surprised me with a rating of four-tents for this campground. She said the only thing stopping it from getting a five-tent rating was the lack of showers. She also upgraded the rating of Serrano to five-tents and I would agree it is going to be hard to beat that USFS campground.