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Showing posts from April, 2013

Trying to be a Better RV Camping Mentor

Silver City, NM. The other day I took a friend and his dog out for a "field trip" near my dispersed campsite. I soon became aware that I was futilely -- and a little humorously -- proselytizing a man who prefers to stay in RV parks. Real RV camping of the dispersed, hookup-free kind has given me much pleasure and satisfaction over the years. It was not an original invention. I was influenced by other people to take it up. 'What goes around...' is the old adage. So why haven't I returned the favor to the world?

The most brutal explanation is that this is pure snobbishness. RV park dwellers are the "ignorant masses," you see, and ol' Boonie doesn't want to waste his wisdom on them.

Most of the time the other person is the male half of a couple. The minute I realize that there is a woman in the picture, I lose all motivation to preach boondocking. And rightly so.

But in this case the man had no such encumbrances. It's always confusing to me to s…

Are Light Travel Trailers Safe?

An Epilogue follows at the bottom, since I originally wrote this post when I had a double axle travel trailer (4500 pound GVWR), and was thinking of going to a single. I have indeed gone to a single axle trailer since writing this post.

Thus an epilogue is added at the bottom.

This isn't an RV "how to" blog. I avoid practical discussions because 1) it should be left to people who make a few nickels and dimes from Google ads, and 2) practical details are terribly boring to read, because they don't carry over well to somebody else in slightly different circumstances. (Which is true 95% of the time.)

But safety is special. Recently I had the wheel bearings repacked with grease and the brakes inspected/adjusted, on my 4000 pound travel trailer, with tandem axles.  The wires to the electrical brake were broken on one of my four wheels. (And it wasn't the first time.) No wonder I had noticed the rear end wiggling when braking.


Fire and Ice

Silver City, NM. Today confirms an ever-strengthening prejudice of mine that pain and pleasure are linked in a dialectic, and that Comfort is the great false Idol of the tourist and RV newbie. There is a pleasure unique to a morning like this.

On my drive back into New Mexico I saw tumbleweeds ensnared in the upper horizontal members of utilitypoles. "Only in southern New Mexico," I smirked. But actually the wind has been howling in this entire quadrant of the country. It doesn't bother me as much as it does some people. Still, it does take its toll on you. You begin to feel like you are under constant assault.

And now this. Perfect calm, perfectly blue skies, clean air. At my dispersed campsite, a turkey vulture is searching vainly for a thermal; it is too cold. Until then it can only do languid spiral loops over the grassland. 

The inside of the trailer reached the low 30s F this morning. I slept in until sunrise. Never underestimate the pleasure of morning sun into a fro…


Within a couple hours, news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings had become repetitive and predictable. Every uniform or badge was a "hero"; endless drivel about "pulling together"; bravado about American fortitude; "how did you feel when..." questions; platitudes from politicians trying to assume a mock-Churchillian pose; and all the rest of it.

Let's assume, until something definite is known, that the perpetrator was a Middle Eastern terrorist. There is something good that could come out of this bombing, if we could just channel our shock and disgust in the right way, that is, sieze the moment to ask questions that normally never get asked. The most draconian dictatorship could not impose tighter censorship than we impose on ourselves, voluntarily it would seem.

Rather than lay out these questions in a point-by-point, policy-wonk style, I choose a concrete representation of all those questions. Let the questions arise indirectly when millions of A…

A Layer of Forest Floats Off

It never ceases to amaze me how specific any particular person's likes and dislikes can be. The other day Coffee Girl and I were mountain biking on the east side of the Santa Rita Mountains, south of Tucson, when we saw something that drives me a little crazy whenever I see it.

Ah well, the reader probably can't even tell what I'm praising. But it jumps out at me from miles away. Here's a close-up.

From a distance all you can see is something "funny." As you get closer, you get suspicious that it's nothing more than trees on a ridgeline, which appear to be delaminating from the earth. The most precious moment is just before you realize what you are looking at. Delamination isn't the most glamorous word. Delamination is what happens to paint on old wood.

Perhaps because you are looking up at it, and you are under the influence of endorphins, a nobler word seems more fitting; a word like 'evanescence.' The trees seem to be undergoing a "phase-…

Discussion Forums Need to Get Better

My head hurts. There are few things that will cause brain-pain as easily as reading discussion forums on the internet. Grim determination is indispensable. With enough patience you can actually learn a few things. But most of the contributors seem to want to make you suffer first.

These days I read some of the pickup truck and tow vehicle forums. Let's hope the next generation is learning in school how to write on a discussion forum, the same way that my generation learned how to write a business letter or how to type. Until then, the forum reader will have to endure dumb jokes, habitual contradiction, sidetracking, ad hominem trollishness, misspellings, and the worst written English imaginable. Can any of those forum-mongers write two sentences without obtruding abbr. & acronyms? And don't even get me started on that LOL/IMHO crap ... because those people R the biggest PITA!!!! (LOL!!!!)

The frustrated comedians are even worse. For one thing, they are hardly ever funny. Sec…

Looking for a Lower Cost Tow Vehicle

Note that the title did not say "Looking for a Tow Vehicle with better fuel economy." For the most part, this post is about a tow vehicle pulling a travel trailer.

How does an RVer escape a full-sized van or pickup truck, with its length, large turning radius, 6000 pounds of weight, and thirsty V8 engine? The simple answer is: don't. Stick with a brontosaurus and then drive it fewer miles per year.

My current brontosaurus is a 3/4 ton Ford Econoline 250 van, used to pull a 4000 pound travel trailer. The original engine and transmission still work well at 225,000 miles. What if I had purchased a lighter-duty vehicle at the beginning of my RV career, got slightly better fuel economy, but then needed to replace the transmission or engine at 150,000 miles? Would that have 'saved money?'

I used to drive about 15,000 miles per year. These days I've managed to cut that in half. I feel really good about that, because it's also beneficial from a safety and environmen…

Falling in Love IN -- not WITH -- Tombstone

It has always been a noble and unselfish thing on my part to leave the tourist kitsch of Tombstone AZ for others to enjoy. I've never set foot in the place until yesterday. But I offered to take a woman to dinner, and we knew there would be some places open in Tombstone on Easter. Under the right circumstances even a ridiculous place can be enjoyable.

Naturally, after lunch, there was the obligatory and painfully slow tour of so-called art galleries, aka, bauble and trinket shops.  What is this perverse fascination that colorful junk holds for women?

Now a music cue should break in. The romantic music should swell, as the two lovers run to each other in slow motion from opposite ends of a flowery meadow. This is no April Fool's joke. And I even have a witness. On the far wall was a large painting that wowed me. This was only the second time in my life that a painting appealed to me. This seems odd, so naturally it must be explained.

In Arizona it's hard to believe that some…