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  • Leduc – Beaumont – Joseph Lake – Miquelon Lake Bike Loop

    Posted on September 21st, 2017 admin 1 comment

    Recently,  I did a little 118 km weekend loop to a couple of local lakes.  This was not as far as my earlier four-day loop.  This run had the following purposes

    1. Ride the new bike (first taken on the Tunder Lake supported tour) withe all the mods
    2. Use the new 12L World Tour panniers from MEC as front panniers (with the ones I got with the bike on the back)
    3. Practice planning and writing out a route
    4. Provide a test run for a possible group ride next summer

    Bike Mods

    Nothing significant, really.  I took the Rocky Mountain hybrid  that a previous owner had converted for touring.  First, I transferred the pedals and toe clips from my urban bike — really made a difference.  I hadn’t realized that the pedals on the RM were a bit stiff (I’ll fix them), but I had noticed my feet jumping off the pedals on bumps.   Second, I raised the seat by 1 cm.  Not a lot, but it made a difference.  Third, I tilted  the adjustable stem up as far as it would go; this also reduced the reach.  I think I’ll want to raise the headset with a couple of spacers.  Fourth, I tilted the bars back a bit.   Where drop bars let you move up and down as you shift grip, these bars have me moving forward and back.  Not sure I like that, but on this trip the reduced reach was more comfortable than on the Thunder Lake trip.  Finally, I moved my wired bike computer over to this bike so I could track distances, speed, cadence etc.

    New Panniers

    I had got a set of panniers with the bike; they’re an older MEC model, about 20L, waterproof and in good condition.  The previous owner had apparently used these as front panniers on a trip in Argentina.

    The MEC 20L panniers on the back.

    The MEC 20L panniers on the back.

    I shifted them to the back, where they fit just fine; the chainstays are long enough and the bags narrow enough that I don’t kick them.  They’re roomier than the bags I took on a four-day, three-night trip, and would probably be all I’d need.

    World Tour 12L 5038400-IND39

    MEC 12L World Tour pannier

    But the bike did come with front racks, so…  Mountain Equipment Coop had their World Tour 12L panniers on sale for $10 off, so I bought a couple as front panniers.  They are about the same color as the other ones, so look like a matched set.   The World Tour bags aren’t waterproof, but they come with a rain cover that tucks into a handy inside pocket.

    They’re not quite as easy to access as the others.  There’s only one zip-up front pocket, suitable for something flat such as a guidebook or maybe a small flat first aid kit.  Otherwise, it’s just one deep pocket with a couple of little ones inside.   That’s okay — with the others, all the pockets and dividers just mean I can’t remember where I put anything!   It will take a few tours to decide what goes best where.

    Four panniers provides far more room than I needed for an overnight, so I set out with them mostly empty.

    Planning the Bike Tour

    I used Google Maps in the beta bike mode to plot the route, measure distances between points, check elevation, and select rest stops.  I knew the area, and had traveled to the various stops by car, though I hadn’t followed the particular route that I worked out.   I laid the route out in legs, choosing distances based on my admittedly limited experience that I thought would work, and stopping at places that I knew would be good (availability of water, toilets, and picnic tables for example).

    Solid line - proposed route.  Dotted line - actual route

    Solid line – proposed route. Dotted line – actual route

    I sent my work to a few other riders in the Millet Cycling Meetup for comment.

     

    On the Road East to Miquelon Lake

    My friend and fellow rider Susan liked the plan and wanted to come.  She had a long drive to reach the starting point, and we set out about an hour late.   We didn’t follow my planned route, electing to stay on pavement (I hadn’t been able to tell from Google Maps even in satellite view whether a particular road was paved or gravel). The legs worked out okay, though we were a bit late to lunch at Joseph Lake. I had built in enough flexibility that we reached Miquelon Lake in good time at around 4:00 pm, in plenty of time to set up and have supper before a threatened rainstorm.

    We both agreed that that part of the ride had been a good one.  With an earlier start, we would have had time to explore Beaumont and Joseph Lake a bit as planned, and maybe take a side loop into New Sarepta in passing, but neither of us felt deprived by missing them.

     Camping and Riding the Miquelon Lake Trails

    Campsite in the rain, Sunday morning

    Campsite after the rain, Sunday morning

    After we set up, we rode around the camp a bit,  and I had a shower.  We had a huge RV site, as Alberta provincial parks are not bicycle friendly.   We did look into the group site, and talked with the park attendant about how many cyclists and tents we would be allowed to have in one site; we’ll have to talk to the parks people for more than two.  She said she’d had many cyclotourists come in this summer and all had been disappointed to have to pay for and occupy a huge RV site.

    It rained that evening, sending us under my little tarp to eat supper.  The rain in the night gave us a good sleep.  The next morning, Susan showered while I made breakfast.  Using freeze-dried food was a bit of a novelty for both of us; last night’s supper was good but I don’t think I put enough water into the hash browns!   I was also using a newly-acquired windscreen for my Trangia spirit stove.  Worked well, cut down boiling time and conserved fuel.

    Trangia spirit stove boiling water for hashbrowns.

    Trangia spirit stove boiling water for hashbrowns.

    After breakfast, the rain cleared up. We packed what gear we could and spread out the rest to dry, then headed off to enjoy the 20 km of backwoods trails in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.  Some were a bit muddy after the rain but we had no trouble.  Susan hadn’t ridden since our trip to Banff (I didn’t write that one up) so walked up a few of the steeper hills.  Only got lost once when I followed a trail that wasn’t on the map (but then, I’d lost the map, and Susan said I’d turned the wrong way at the first turn, so that’s no surprise).

    Susan, holding a treasure she found in the woods along the trail.

    Susan, holding a treasure she found in the woods along the trail.

    Heading Back to Leduc

    We found our way back to camp, had a quick cold lunch, and finished packing our mostly-dry gear.    Despite the rain and taking a bit more time on the trails than planned, the quick lunch meant we were only about an half hour later than I’d estimated.

    All this time, a stiff and gusty wind had been blowing.  Hadn’t bothered us in the woods.  But as soon as we left the park, we were in it.  Dead into it.   Turns out that four panniers creates quite a bit of drag!   A lot of sail area for a cross-wind, too, threatening to blow me into traffic or off the road.

    Also, the nice downhills we followed yesterday were now uphills going back.   They weren’t much as hills go, gentle slopes that normally we’d have cruised up, gear and all.  But the combination of hills and headwinds was pretty wearing.  Susan, tough farm-woman that she is, just gritted her teeth and kept on pedalling,  while I found myself tiring and needing frequent breaks.   I was sure glad to see the end of the 28 km first leg and pull into Rollyview.  Thanks to the wind, we arrived two hours later than scheduled.

    I was pretty worn out. If there had been no other choice, I could have rested at Rollyview then finished the last 14 km to Leduc.  But I had nothing to prove, not even to myself, so I called my wife to come and pick us up.  Although Susan said she was good to carry on, I think she was glad enough of the lift.   We all went out for supper at McDonalds then went our separate ways.

    Evaluating the Tour Route

    If not for the wind and our late starts, the route would have been fine.  But clearly, tour planning has to take such things into consideration.  Start times need to be made clear, and adhered to insofar as possible, but perhaps alternate rest stops need to be in place for adverse conditions, and end times need to be flexible rather than tight deadlines.

     

     

  • At the Side of the Road

    Posted on July 25th, 2017 admin No comments

    As I was biking along over the weekend, I was surprised at what I noticed along the side of the road.  Many interesting and unexpected things.

    1. Tools – I found a complete flex head ratchet set, retail $129; a 10″ adustable wrench, maybe $10; and a combination ratchet, MSRP $32.  Yes, over $170 in tools and except for the 10″ wrench, things I didn’t have.  I though the value was worth the weight, and carried them home.  Hey, it was only a kilogram and a half of steel in the bottom of a pannier.

      http://s7d5.scene7.com/is/image/CanadianTire/0588586_1?defaultImage=image_na_EN&wid=160&hei=160&op_sharpen=1

      A flex-head ratchet combo set, sort of like what I found.

    2. Energy drink cans – Do energy drink drinkers drink more cans than beer drinkers?  Or do they just throw out their cans more?  Is the number of cans a sign of the success of the energy drink industry?
    3. Bic lighters – If your Bic won’t flick, toss it.  Image result for bic lighter
    4. Coyote scat – I guess it’s more pleasant to poop if there isn’t gra$$ up your a$$.
    5. Little black beetles – Saw a couple of these every kilometer. About 1 cm long, all seemed the same species, all seemed to be suicidal, crawling from the ditch into the traffic lanes.  Squish.
    6. An intact and undamaged plastic flip-lid kitchen trash can.  Too big to take home.   Don’t need it anyway.

      Image result for junk in ditch

      Generic junk tossed on the side of the road. I didn’t see this much on my trip.  I’m glad.

    7. Gloves.  More gloves.  Do people throw them away?  Do they fly out of pickup boxes?
    8. Clothing – Jackets, pants, t-shirts, underwear, socks, shoes.  Not a single bra. I’ll add here towels, facecloths, j-cloths, chamois, and a set of curtains.  How do you lose a set of curtains along the highway?

    Since I was mostly watching the scenery and greenery, I probably missed some stuff.

  • Naturehike Ultralight Cycling Tent: Life Inside

    Posted on June 14th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Naturehike Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

    I’ve had this entry-level backpacking/cycling tent for a month and have used it several times.  When first I received it, I reviewed the specifications and gave my first impressions.  Then, I reviewed the ease (or not) of setup and takedown.    Now it’s time for a quick review of life under the flysheet, actually using the tent.  I have spent five nights in this tent so far, enough time go know the pros and cons.

    Two Versions:  Plain and Storm Skirt

    There are two versions of the fly sheet.  The first one is a normal “full-cover” fly, as shown below. This version allows air to flow from the bottom of the fly up and out through the vent.

    Naturehike NH18A095-D without storm skirt

    Naturehike NH18A095-D without storm skirt

    The second version of the fly has a storm skirt, also known as storm flaps or snow flaps.  This is the version I received from Bangood.com.

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions, showing the storm skirt

    Con:  Ventilation Limited; Tiny Vestibule

     Ventilation is minimal in this tent, limited to a little triangular aperture above the head end.

    One one occasion, I set up during a warm evening as a thunderstorm was coming in. The air temperature dropped while I was putting up the tent on wet grass, and immediately there was condensation under the fly. The storm hit and I ducked inside and closed the vestibule. With me inside, water was running down the fly (but fortunately, not dripping into the tent). A couple of hours after I went to sleep, I woke up hot and sweaty — the tent was like a sauna, warm and damp.

    I hauled my gear inside the tent, undid the vestibule, stretched the left panel as far to the right across the tent door as I could, to try to minimize the rain coming into the tent,  and went back to sleep in my damp bag.   Aside from what came in through the door, there was no water inside the tent.

    Fortunately, the next day was sunny and I was able to dry everything out.

     

    Pro:  Relatively Roomy

    I’ve already discussed ease of setup, ability to put up the fly first then add the tent underneath (I did this in a dry run, but fortunately, I haven’t had to do this yet in a storm), and some other features.  During use, I found another advantage to this tent.

    During the storm, I took my gear (two 20L panniers and my shoes) out from under the vestibule into the tent with me — fortunately there’s enough room.  I’m a short guy (5’7″, 170 cm), not too big (155 lb, 70 kg) and I find this tent roomy.  On my last trip, I had two 20L panniers and a front bag, plus my shoes, in the tent with me.  I can put them at the head or foot of the tent, or range them in a row beside me in any combination, and still not press too badly on the sides of the tent.  A taller, bulkier traveler will have enough floor space for comfort, but might not have room for gear.

    Of course, I’d much rather those things didn’t share my tent, and there’s just barely enough from for them in the vestibule.  There’d probably be enough room there for a small backpack.   But it’s marketed as a cycling tent.

    In the meantime, I picked up a lightweight nylon tarp to use as to extend the vestibule, to give more room for gear and so I can enter and exit the tent in a storm without letting in too much rain.  We’ll see how that works out.

    Conclusion: Decent Tent

    I’m quite satisfied with this tent, given its $75 CAD pricelist (shipping included).   The tent is lightweight, compact, reasonably well-made, and serves its purpose as an entry-level one-person tent for occasional use. Its major flaw is that there is no “roof peak” over the entry, so rain can come right into the tent if the vestibule is open or as you enter/exit the tent.  Naturehike has other lightweight 1-man and 2-man tents that do not have these restrictions.

    The tent is available at Banggood as I write this.

    Disclaimer:  I am not connected with either Banggood or Naturehike and I have received no compensation or incentive for this review.

    Further Reading on Naturehike Lightweight Cycling Tent

     

  • NatureHike Ultralight Tent: Set-up and Take-Down

    Posted on May 16th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Set-up and Take-down of the Naturehike Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

     

    • BanggoodProduct ID: 1020476
    • Color: Orange
    • Brand: Naturehike
    • https://www.naturehike.com/cycling-ultralight-silicone-one-man-tent/
    • Model: NH18A095-D Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

    Good First Impression

     

    I bought this tent for occasional casual use in backpacking and bike touring.  It made a good first impression: compact, light, well-made, and well-presented. All the parts were there, including a footprint; pegs, poles, and footprint came in their own storage bags; everything fit nicely into the tent storage bag. Fit and finish were decent. Time to set it up.

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    Steps to Set Up the NatureHike

     

    Setup was quick and easy.   A waterproof Ikea-style picture instruction sheet is sewn into the tent bag so it can’t be lost. It’s typical pole-in-grommet setup, with clips for the fly, similar to most tents I’ve used over the past two decades.

    If you jam the poles into the ground and throw on the fly, you can in fact then add the footprint and tent afterwards, out of the rain. Might cover that in a future post. However, the normal setup is:

    1. Remove items from the storage bag and lay them out in a convenient order. In windy weather, place pegs and poles on top of tent and fly so nothing blows away (you hope)

      Everything set out and ready to go.

      Everything set out and ready to go.

    2. If using the footprint — advised for rocky or rough terrain — lay it out and peg it down square, with one corner facing the prevailing wind. Is there a right way up for the footprint? Yes: the little buckles should point up. Put the rest of the pegs and their storage bag into the main bag so they don’t get lost or blow away.

      Footprint staked down

      Footprint staked down

    3. Spread the tent out. Note the orientation of the door; your head will be to the right as you look at the door from the outside. You want the door at a 45 degree angle to the prevailing wind. Peg the tent down square.

      Tent spread out and pegged down

      Tent spread out and pegged down

    4. If you have the footprint down, slip out the pegs one at a time and add the tent strap, then reinsert the peg.

      Tent and footprint pegged together

      Tent and footprint pegged together

    5. Remove the poles and put the pole bag into the main bag so it doesn’t blow away (by habit, I stow everything in the tent from this point on). Open the poles. The longer part, with four sections, will go to the right as you face the door. Insert the poles into the grommets in the straps. If you have the footprint down, put the pole through both grommets.

    6. Clip the tent to the poles, using the attached hooks.Tent hooked to pole

    7. Open the fly sheet, orient it so that the vestibule is over the door and put it over the poles and tent.. Move around to the back of the tent, flip up the fly, and tie the three straps to the central pole. Use slip knots (like tying a shoe lace) so you can undo them easily later. Why do this from the back? Because if you’re oriented to the prevailing wind, you can hang on to the fly sheet more easily (the voice of experience!).  These ties make the fly and frame a more integrated unit, so that the wind guys are attached to the frame (poles) not just to the fly.

      The the fly to the poles

      Tie the fly to the poles

    8. Clip each corner of the fly sheet into the buckle. Don’t tighten the fly straps just yet.

    9. Stretch out the vestibule and peg it down.

      Stretch out the vestibule and stake it down

      Staking the vestibule

    10. Go around to the back side, stretch out the fly sheet using the attached strap, and peg it down.

      Stake the fly at the back

      Stake the fly at the back

    11. Now go to each corner and stretch the fly straps so that the fly is properly centered over the poles. You may need to readjust this in rain as the nylon fly will stretch a bit. Don’t forget to relax the straps as the fly dries out.

    12. Add the guy lines if heavy weather is expected. Or just to be safe.

      Guy line added at head end

      Guy line added at head end

    I am able to set up this tent by myself in just over five minutes in calm conditions. It takes a little longer with a strong wind (I didn’t time it, because I needed to concentrate on getting it up and getting my gear stowed).

     

    Taking Down and Packing Up the Silicone Ultralight

     

    Take-down in dry, calm conditions was simple and took only a few minutes. In windy conditions, folding the tent and fly was a bit of a fight. Fortunately, there’s lots of room in the tent bag so I didn’t have to be terribly precise about folding; everything went in fine. I was able to fold the tent fairly dry under the fly in the rain, so that only the footprint and fly went in wet. I was able to dry everything out and repack it with no harm.

     

    Notes and Observations

     

    • This is a free-standing tent, which means that if you need to you can unpeg it, and move it to a new location or better orient it to the weather. It also means you can tip it onto its side to dry the bottom off before packing up.

    • The fly on my particular model has what NatureHike calls a skirt, little flaps that spread on the ground on each side. I know them as storm flaps or snow flaps, and the tent is steeply pitched enough that it might withstand snow. In the winter, shovel snow onto the skirt; in summer, pile rocks or sand or sticks on the flaps to keep the wind out in heavy weather. Not sure there’s enough ventilation, though — we’ll see. There is a little triangular vent at the head end.

      Vent propped open

      Vent propped open

    • The vestibule is tiny, barely enough room for shoes in the corner and a small pannier on either side. The rectangular floor inside is fairly large, room enough for me and gear.

      Vestibule with a couple of Axiom panniers.  Crawl over them to enter tent.

      Vestibule with a couple of Axiom panniers. Crawl over them to enter tent.

    • The pointy top means tight head room when you’re kneeling or sitting cross-legged. Other designs give a greater feeling of space even with smaller floor plans. I didn’t find this too bothersome since I’m mostly sprawled out when I’m in a tent, or propped up by my pack.

    • The tent has a hook at top for a light, and a small gear pocket at the head end by the door.

    • Some of the stitching is off-center, and might eventually have to be redone, but all look reasonably secure. I expect at least a summer of use without problems.

    • The Velcro fasteners on the vestibule do not look firmly sewn. We’ll see how they hold up

     

    Further Reading

  • Shopping for a 1-Person Backpacking Tent

    Posted on April 21st, 2017 admin No comments

    When I was younger, I did a bit of bike touring and backpacking with my kids.  I toted a three-person tent for them, and a bivy shelter for myself.  Had thought for years about getting a light-weight 1- or 2-person tent and getting back into it.  But the wife isn’t into that kind of camping (her ideal is to camp in a motel) and I kept putting it off.

    This summer, I have the opportunity to do a bit of touring with Circuit Cycle and Sports in Millet, who is organizing a bunch of trips.  This gives me a chance to revisit the light tent idea.    For the first trip, there are four possibilities:

    1. Drive my current 4-person dome tent to the destination and leave it there, bike to the campsite, ride back, then drive back to the camp and retrieve the tent.  A bit of organization and time required, but only cost is for gas.  This is a good tent with full fly and huge vestibule: I can stand up in it, there’s lots of room for gear or a roommate if necessary.  Hey, I can pre-deliver lawn chairs, a table, all the comforts of car camping!
    2. Use my current “emergency” bivouac, which consists of a “survival blanket”  (from Survive Outdoors Longer),  a lightweight nylon tarp for a ground sheet, and bits of rope and parachute cord.  I’ve used this system for years for winter camping where mosquitoes aren’t a problem.  With a bit of mosquito netting, I could  probably make this work (and mossies usually go to bed shortly after I do!).   Total mass including cordage less than 0.8 kg, cost was about $25 total.  These things live in my day pack (in various iterations) and have seen emergency use over the years.

      SOL Sport Utility Blanket and a general-purpose waterproof nylon sheet

      SOL Sport Utility Blanket and a general-purpose waterproof nylon sheet

    3. Purchase a used tent.  I found a bottom-end 2-person tent by Escort for $10 at the local Second Glance store, the kind with a handkerchief-sized fly that lets the rain in when you open the door and bleeds moisture in through the fabric wherever you touch it.  Since the trip will probably be cancelled for inclement weather, this would do, but I really don’t like that kind of tent on general principles.  Still, price is great.  Mass about 2 kg, surprisingly low.    I also found a rather large and somewhat hefty used  2.5 kg Cabela 1-person tent on kijiji.com for $150.   Tempted by that one, despite its relatively high mass.
    4. Purchase a new tent.   Ah, but what to buy.   Prices range from cheapie Chinese knockoffs for under $100 to high-end ultra-light technical marvels in the $800+ range.

      Wind-Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

      Wind-Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

    I can afford good quality, and I generally try to buy the best gear that I can afford — but can I justify it for a few occasional uses?   I’m not apt go get seriously back into either bike touring or backpacking because I currently have no one to go with, and it worries my wife when I head off on my own (unhappy wife, unhappy life).

    In the end, I narrowed my choices to the entry-level Naturehike Wind-Wing 1 from GearBest in China ($102 delivered, complete with footprint; 1.7 kg) , and the mid-priced Spark 1 from Mountain Equipment Coop ($299 delivered, footprint extra $32, total mass 1.3 kg)

    MEC's Spark 1 is a mid-priced 1 person tent

    MEC’s Spark 1 is a mid-priced 1 person tent

    Naturehike is a Korean company specializing in outdoor merchandise.   Their products are generally well-reviewed and they appear to be reasonably well-made.   Nobody is going to pretend that they’re similar to a Big Agnes or a MSR Carbon Reflex, but for a starter tent it looks like a reasonable choice at an attractive price.

    Mountain Equipment Coop is local, and there’s some merit to spending my money in Canada.   MEC offers a rock-solid guarantee and I was really tempted by the Spark 1 tent.  It’s a bit larger and roomier than the Wind-Wing, is 400 grams lighter, and might be a little more compact when packed (hard to tell from the online images).  But at more than three times the price, it seems a bit high for “I’ll try this to see how I like it”.   If I were younger, or if I had a travelling companion, and knew I were going to be doing a lot of light-weight travel, I’d get the 2-person Spark 2.

    But life is what it is, and for now I’m on my own or going with a group.   Today I put in the order for the NH Wing 1 and paid a little extra for tracked air shipping and delivery insurance, for a total of $102 CAD. Watch for a review soon.

     FOLLOWUP

    I wound up purchasing the WindWing from GearBest, but also found another Naturehike product at Banggood.com for only $75 CAD shipped to my door. Now I have two tents!   I thought I’d select one for personal use and sell the other.

  • Go RVing Canada Adds Problematic Reader Blog

    Posted on August 9th, 2011 admin No comments

    Following on their “Take Your Best Shot” photo contest, Go RVing Canada has started a Reader Blog

    “It’s a place where RV enthusiasts from across Canada can map their favourite parks and share adventures,” says their newsletter.  “If you’ve had a great RVing experience, add it to the comments section for others to read.”

    Note that “map their favorite parks” part.  This refers to  interactive map that locates the topic of each blog post., which is a nice idea and seems to work okay.

    Yet the blog as I found it when I checked this morning has a couple of what I perceived as serious problems.

    1. THERE IS NO WAY TO POST!  Yup, there is exactly one post for each province, with no way to add new posts.
    2. Visitors are allowed to comment on those existing posts, but BEWARE!  Comments cannot be edited or deleted (all comments are moderated before publication, so I asked another comment to have both my comments removed)

    So for now, don’t bother trying to post at an unpostable blog that won’t let you edit or delete your own comments.   I’ll update this once I hear from Go RVing Canada.

     

  • Camp Finder App – Find RV Parks by iPhone

    Posted on June 21st, 2011 admin No comments
    Camp Finder

    Camp Finder Splash Screen

    On the road and looking for a camp site?   There’s an app for that!

    Just released this month by CampingRoadTrip.com, the Camp Finder application costs only $1.99 and provides access to some 14,000 US camp sites, according to a media release June 7, 2011.

    The app allows users to

    • “Search for campgrounds and RV parks by name, city and state or current location.
    • “Check rates, amenities, camping discounts, contact details, photos and camping reviews to find the perfect campgrounds and RV parks….
    • “Other features include advanced search, directions to your campground destination…
    • “Access to the latest camping and RV tips and articles from CampingRoadTrip.com.”

    No indication of when or if the app might be expanded to include Canada, but still of value to snowbirds taking the RV south for the winter.

    Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with iOS 4.2 or later.

  • Buckskin Mountain State Park

    Posted on June 17th, 2011 admin No comments

    I can’t believe that here it is June and we’re still sorting out photos and details of our winter trip!  Okay, some things got in the way…

    Dawn relaxing by the cabana at Buckskin Mountain State Park

    On our way back from California to Canada last March, we stopped at Buckskin Mountain StatePark on recommendation of both friends at home and people we met while traveling.

    Except for lounging on the beach during the warmest part of the day, we didn’t take part in any of the water activities.

    To clarify, the missus lounged while I went hiking !  To me, the hiking was the best part of that stop.  In one afternoon, I covered the short but steep Lightning Bolt Trail, took the guided nature walk called the Buckskin Trail, explored a series of abandoned mines, and wandered some unmarked quad trails that headed off into the desert.

    A view of the Colorado River from a trail on Buckskin Mountain

    It was only about four miles, but there were lots of stops to read about and examine desert plants, and it took time to poke into old mine shafts, and just wander about to see what’s over yonder knoll.

    I’m a fairly strong hiker and did it all in one go, but some seniors (senior to me!) I met along the way were doing one trail per day and taking their time.  We agreed that it was a pleasant hike.

    I’d have liked to visit Interruption Point too (only another mile round trip) but it was getting close to suppertime and I knew Dawn would worry if I were gone any longer.

    Ah well, it’s good to save something for the next visit!

  • RV Park Superpages Far From Super

    Posted on April 17th, 2011 admin 16 comments

    I surfed into something called RV Park Superguide, “The quickest, easiest way to search, browse, and reserve North America’s most popular RV parks INSTANTLY!”

    I’m not going to give the link, because IMO it’s not worth much, and I’ll explain why in a bit.

    There’s a lot of hype on the page.  Access over 17,000 campgrounds. Search for RV parks anywhere and everywhere [in North America, we assume].  Find RV parks with the amenities you want.  Access maps, weather, campground descriptions. Special page to store favorite parks.  Sounds okay…

    California Resort Shown in Alabama

    If you click on the “Give me free access” control, the next page is a hard sell page that has the look I associate with scam sites.  Forget free — pay this and that and the other.  Premium features.  Half-price camping.  And I bet that if you reach this page, it’s limited to the next  250 43 subscribers!

    But bypass the huge graphics for Silver Access ($67) or Gold Access ($97) and watch for the tiny print that says “No thanks, Andrea, I just want access to the free directory”.  Andrea is the marketing robot, I guess.

    So here’s what you get:  Something called RV Park Superpages with search fields for state/province, city, and campground name.   I tried it on a few favorite campgrounds and I’m not impressed.  It missed a major well-known local RV resort (Glowing Embers near Edmonton, Alberta) but no campground guide can catch them all.  The real bugbear was that regardless of location or number of resorts a search turned up, the maps all showed a single campground in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama!

    Might be worth something if you stay in campgrounds a lot, but I’m sure glad I didn’t pay for the search service.

    Oh, I also got an automated email from Andrea chiding me for not buying a premium package “like most people do.”  I expect that until I “block sender” I’ll be getting a lot of emails urging me to buy.

  • Snowbirds Fly South to Arizona, California, Hawaii, Other Warm Spots

    Posted on December 13th, 2010 admin No comments

    A lot of our friends have left for warmer climes. A couple are headed for Hawaii, another to Texas. Some are already in California and Arizona. Haven’t run across anyone going to Mexico (including us; our last trip was three years ago to Puerta Vallarta).

    We spent a week in Yuma, Arizona last year, and a few articles showed up from that trip. We were too busy having fun for me to spend a lot of time writing, though.

    We stayed at or visited Fortuna de Oro, West Winds, Cactus Gardens and didn’t write them up. Maybe next time.


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