October 24, 2009

Campfires and Tin Mines

Last night we celebrated Andy's 15th birthday with a potluck in the backyard. Andy invited a bunch of his friends and they spent most of the night at the campfire in the back yard. It was quite the sight to see two dozen teenagers packed around the fire ring.

For too many of them it was the first time they've ever been to a campfire. It sure is great being able to share that with them in our own backyard. Check out the view of the city lights too.

Saturday morning, Sherry and I went for a hike up Tin Mine Canyon in the Cleveland National Forest, about ten minutes from our house. During the 1800's there were several working tin mines in this canyon, and at least one shaft can be viewed from the trail.

The canyon bottom is shaded with Live Oaks and Sycamores, and there are lots of sages and buckwheat growing along the sides. The tin ore is clearly visible and there are some remnants of the history for those who look. We're working up to a hike up to Skyline and Oak Flat on the same trailhead.

October 21, 2009

Cool Reading

Not much to do with camping, but most of us outdoorsy-types appreciate the venerable USGS topographical maps. They've been publishing an interesting history of the maps in one of the obscure journals I read (ARCNews). They have from 1884-1980 posted online. The next chapter should be posted after the print edition comes out after New Years, so save the link and check back later.

This historic photo shows an early USGS topographer taking measurements while his assistant records the information on a field sketch. Imagine mapping our entire nation before GPS, lasers and four-wheel drive. Incredible.

October 12, 2009

Outdoor Stove

I've always admired the tinkerer. This guy built a camping stove out of a metal mailbox, some conduit and a rain gutter. I'm not sure how many fires it would take to finally destroy it, but you have to love the ingenuity. Check out his blog for homemade kayaks, trikes, campers, etc.

October 5, 2009


It is still months away, but I'm getting excited about the trip to Sequoia National Park for Spring Break. We'll be staying in the foothills below the big trees, but that will only be a base camp for our explorations. The logistics are a little more involved than the Zion trip, but we'll be bringing along several friends this time around. Sherry is hoping to see some bears, but I'd be happy to see some of these pika.

October 3, 2009


I've made a few modifications to the RV that I never posted, so it is time to bring the blog up to date. We decided to call our RV, La Rana, which is Spanish for The Frog. I took off the factory decals in the back and added a large version of this frog drawing as well as our destination stickers. There is a smaller version of La Rana on each side of the RV too. I'll be adding the text for La Rana as well.

We found it frustrating to use our XM radio during the Zion trip because the overhang of the cab frequently blocked the signal. Rather than attach it to the roof and try to figure out an elegant way to route the wiring, I mounted a bracket the the front grill and mounted it next to the hood latch. Hopefully, it won't get in the way of the mechanics. Most people won't even notice it.

Finally, I spent some time playing with the layout of Our Camping Blog. Let me know what you think.

October 2, 2009

TV or not TV, That is the Question

I'm not generally the kind who likes to watch TV on a camping trip, but during fire season, there are no campfires allowed, so once the sun goes down, it is easy to end up inside instead of at the fire ring.

We have a digital TV, DVD and antenna, but the location of the TV doesn't work well for viewing. In the drawing to the right, the Blue line is the factory installed TV. As you can see, forget about watching it from the single chair or the cab-half the dinette.

Andy likes that location well enough for playing video games, but everyone else gets a sore neck. One possibility is moving it to the green line, above the single chair and then putting a separate monitor for video games on the cab-over bed.

Another option is to get a set of those back-of-headrest monitors and mount them by the back bed and above the door. The selector switch already mounted in the cupboard allows each of two TVs to choose their source: Antenna, Cable or VCR/DVD.

The issue with the headrest monitors is that they're 12v so they can be powered by the interior lighting circuit, however the tuner and selector are 110v so they wouldn't work without shore power anyway. I could find a 12v DVD player and use it during boondocking.

At this point, I'm thinking I can put the existing TV above the chair, but reverse the mount so that it will pivot toward the cab-over bed. That way, there is only one TV on board, and if Andy is going to play video games, it can be pivoted toward his bed (the cabinet is too small for the existing TV). The only person who gets left out is whoever is sitting in the single chair, but a mirror mounted on the other wall could solve that problem. I'm going to need to ponder this for a while.