Fruita Wrap-up

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The boys watching rabbits

The boys and I have been here 7 weeks now. They have staked their claim on the Park and patrol more and more of it as time goes on. The next place we’re going does not allow cats to run free so they are going to hate me for a month or two. Again, Pro-tip: Don’t take outside cats on a road trip. Really. Don’t do it

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Hiking in the nearby hills

I have switched from camp hosting to vehicle mantenance-ing. There are a lot less sites to spruce-up now that it is cold and campers are staying home in front of the fire. Now is the time to fix all the stuff that got used and abused over the summer. There are actually more things to fix than time or money to fix them so I just pick the most urgent things and work on those.

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Cleaning the garage

I do miss having all those campers flowing through the park. I miss having different people to talk to each day and hearing about the places they came from or are going to. In the shop I mostly get to see tools and vehicles.

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Sleeping on the back porch

 

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Near Devils Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

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Agua No Mas

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A working frost-free water hydrant

October is at an end and the water in the park is mostly turned off. There are a half dozen frost-proof hydrants scattered about, but not many are near a campsite. Site 2 (and 4 if you have a long hose) can run a hose to the hydrant near the dump station and site 25 can reach the camper service building. The winter-host has a special heated connection to the water supply, but the rest of us have to get water the old fashioned way ( I have no idea what that means, it just sounded nostalgic. Maybe picture an older guy with gray hair carting water in wooden pails up a snow-covered hill.)

There are far fewer Park visitors as well. There have been some rain/snow storms in the mountains so it is a chore to get over the mountains to/from Denver. I suspect a few cross-country travelers have taken the southern route along I-40 to avoid the snow. The amount of time it takes me to do my camp-host job has dwindled in direct proportion to the number of visitors so I’m spending more time working on Park repair projects.

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Watching for rabbits in the early morning fog

This is my first fall season living next to a river on the western slope and the fog has this interesting way of forming just as the sun comes up in the morning. The sky is clear as a bell before sunrise and as the orange glow reaches over the mesa and floats down the river the fog materializes out of thin air and hugs the trees. sometimes the fog thickens enough to blot out the sun, other times the sun heats the air and the fog remains a patch-work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Repairs & Mods – Suspension Edition

After 11,000 miles of pulling with the trailer low in the front and the truck dragging its butt on the pavement I decided to get some air springs to level out the system. I made an appointment at The Spring Works in Grand Junction and they installed some Firestone Ride Rite air springs.

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New Air Springs

I’ve decided to set the system up so that the ride height in the rear is the same loaded as it is when the truck is empty. Then add in the tension of the Wt Transfer hitch to bring the front down to where it was with the truck unloaded as per the Wt transfer hitch instructions.

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I started by measuring from a grove on the hub-cap to the edge of the fender well on all four wheels. The measurements are not all the same. There is about 1/2” difference from side-to-side. I suspect age as a factor in that. The front is about 2” less than the back which is to be expected.

Before air springs the trailer caused the truck to squat about 3.5” in the rear. After air springs (with 60 psi loaded. 50 psi unloaded) the air springs get the rear of the truck back up to where it belongs. Engaging the Wt Transfer torsion bars brings the front down to within 1/2” of where it was unloaded.

On the test drive the rear of the truck stayed put. It bobs WAY less than before and the ride up front is better. The front still bobs up-and-down when we drive over a rough spot in the road, but the energy needs to go somewhere.

For those of you keeping score at home this brings the truck’s trailer-towing modifications and repairs to about $12,000.

 

 

 

 

 

Still in Fruita

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The snow-capped La Sals from the Navajo Rocks riding area

My friend Chuck came up from AZ to do some riding in Moab and Fruita. We rode the Navajo Rocks area in Moab (it was ok) and the new Hawkeye trail to Troy Built in Fruita.

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Hawkeye trail

The Hawkeye trail is a great addition to the trails in the Mack area. The loop to Troy Built is super fun. We rode it clock-wise which seemed a lot better than going the other way ‘round. Hawkeye is a great ride down from Mack Ridge but climbing to the top on Troy Built / Mack Ridge would stink. Climbing Mack Ridge from the east then down Hawkeye is also a nice ride. I rode the road section (0.9 mile) first as a warmup then climbed the ridge. I’ve also ridden Hawkeye as a out-and-back and that was big fun!

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The last section of Mack Ridge trail near the top is a bit steep

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Colorado River from Mack Ridge

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Rabbit Valley

Near Rabbit Valley there is a Trail Through Time showcasing the dinosaur fossils found near there. Sure enough, I traveled about an hour forward in time while I was there. On the South side of the road there are a bunch of UTV trails and mtn bike opportunities. Unfortunately I was there when the sky was threatening rain and since the road is in the bottom of a stream-bed that seemed like a bad combination.

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Got out the decorations and made the place festive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repairs & Mods – Awning Edition

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Awning support pulled loose

Our coach has a 20-foot Dometic awning on it. I’m not a huge fan of awnings in the west because thunderstorms have a habit of ripping them off of coaches. The shade is nice, but as soon as the wind kicks up, or if you walk away for 10-minutes, the awning gets torn off by a micro-burst.

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A 1/4″ luan & glass skin won’t hold the lag-bolts

That said, our awning has a mid-span support because it’s so long and that awning support got pulled loose while doing its job. There is suppose to be a plywood backer (according to Outdoors RV) behind the skin into which the coarse-thread lag-bolts are screwed, but alas my coach is missing that piece so the lag-bolts just blew the glass skin and the luan plywood out.

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Dometic’s latest patch for awning support 2.0

Outdoors RV sent me the latest version of the mid-span support (Thanks Todd!) and that hardware package has a 3/16” aluminum backer plate which gets pop-riveted (oscar rivet) to the luan/glass skin then the coarse-thread bolt goes thru that. It looks like version 2 is better than version 1, but not enough better for me to mess with it.

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Long bolts go thru the wall

 

 

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Plenty of room behind the oven to hide the hardware

I opted for the heavy-duty custom version. The awning support is on a section of the wall which backs up to the microwave cabinet inside the coach. So, I pulled the microwave out and drilled thru the wall, thru a 1/2” plywood backer plate I made, and installed thru-bolts from the awning support to the plate inside with toggle bolts (I used them because Peter gave me some. Save a trip to the store).

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Lots of sealant

The backer plate rests on the top-plate of the wall and picks up that structure as well as the luan, foam, luan, glass sandwich of the wall assembly. I sealed the holes and the outside of the awning support with copious amounts of clear silicone. I’m fair-certain the awning support will stay put for awhile this time.

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Big out-of-focus toggle nuts

After having revised the awning support I now wonder what the awning arms are affixed to. Is there anything backing up those lag-bolts? I hope so, but likely not.

As a side-note when I pulled the microwave from the cabinet I discovered that the front feet were missing from the oven. The only thing holding the weight of the oven-front were the tiny-little screws in the trim cover. Sad. Very sad. I made some new feet before the oven went back into the cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Camp Hosting & Riding in Frutia

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Morning Fog

We had 9 days of rain during the first 11 days of October (two days of mtn biking!) and now each morning the thick cold fog greets us as we get ready for the day. Everything is wet, even the things under the patio cover are slick with moisture. At this point the firewood is essentially fire-proof wood.

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The fog soaks everything

On the plus-side the weather has been fabulous for mtn biking in the afternoons. Ride on!

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Mikel climbing part of The Ribbon trail

Mikel (fellow camper) and I took a ride down The Ribbon from Little Park Road to the Lunch Loops riding area. What a great shuttle-ride! Poly (Mikel’s S.O.) dropped us off on top and we rode the 6-ish miles of slick rock and single track trail. The weather was suppose to be sunny and 50-something but it turned out to be overcast and it snowed on us a little bit as we rolled down the canyons.

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Slick rock section on The Ribbon trail

Morning temps have dropped into the low 20’s the past few days. It makes for some chilly mornings on the golf cart! Afternoon the temps rise to the 50’s so the mtn biking has been super! No dust, cool air, just right.

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Riding near Loma on Mary’s

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18-road area, Joe’s trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Camp Host II – Fruita, CO

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Day one – Rain showers and orientation day. I rode around with a Ranger who showed me where everything is and I got a hat and a vest to wear while I’m hosting. I also got a golf cart to ride around in.

Day two – More rain and training in the morning. Lots more rain in the afternoon. They say this is the first time it has rained since March which means I was here the last time it rained! I came here in March for a week while the house was being shown and it rained. I must be a rain-god or something.

Even though it’s only my second day (and technically my day off) I still had more people come knock on my door today (3) than the entire 5-week stay at Tongue River SP. This park fills up every night with RV’ers passing through; sort of an RV motel. We are close to the I-70 highway and it’s easy on easy off for fuel and camping. That and cyclists hanging out in the desert.

Day three – Still my day off and I had 3 more people come ask for assistance. Easy-peasy requests like turn on the power.

Day four – First day of actual work and I’m flying solo! No Ranger in the park, no experienced host. Just me and a massive thunderstorm. I got around the park one and a half times before it started to rain & hail. I saw the storm coming so I had rain gear with me, but it’s real hard to play with paper cards when they are soaked into a recycled paper-paste. The rain let up after and hour or so and the sun came out.

Day five – Second day of solo-hosting and no rain. The process is a lot smoother when the sky is benevolent and there is a Ranger in the park. I finished by 1pm and then went for a bike ride near Loma.

Day six and the rain is back. I’m guessing this is the moisture left over from a big tropical event that made landfall on the west coast last week. Luckily the rain held off until I was done with my host-duties.

’twas a dark and stormy night. Day seven started with steady rain before sunrise which lasted until the end of my shift. I had a break between rain showers so I sprayed some simple green on the RV and ran a brush over it. I’m not technically washing the RV in the park, but I get a clean coach none the less. Rinse cycle came a bit later when the sky sprang a leak and cleaned the soap off.

My plan-A was to spend every afternoon riding my bike on the wonderful mtn bike trails near Fruita. 18-road, Mary’s, Lunch Loops – repeat! Plan-B has me sitting inside watching it rain which turns the trails to mud. Need to come up with a plan-C.

Some friends are over in Moab and since the rain ended sooner over there I dashed over for some riding on Hymasa and Capt’n Ahab. 4 hours of driving for 4 hours of riding isn’t too bad a deal after a week of rain. The trials we rode have a lot of slick-rock and sand so they were drained if not quite dry. Kane Creek was only a few inches deep so that was a nice crossing. The down side was the wet sand sticks to the tires and gets drug up on the slick-rock making it sketchy to steer until the sand falls off the tires.