my travel website

Razorgirls will still be here for random ramblings and motorcycle stuff, but the dogs and I are splitting town on Sunday and I built a website so y’all can follow along with my photos and writings and locations.

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Anniversaries and Adventures

Three days before Labor Day weekend officially began, I headed out with my camper, dogs, and anticipation from Prescott, Arizona to my hometown of Carbondale, Illinois. Awaiting me was the 30th Anniversary of the punk rock house that was my second home-away-from-home when I was in high school. Last time I saw a lot of these folks was just five years ago for the small 25th (and first) Anniversary shindig. But there were a few folks going this year that I hadn’t seen in around 25 years.

Before I could see all those people, I had to get there. I try to avoid campgrounds, but since I was barreling across the U.S with a short time-frame, I wanted something definitive to hold onto for my first night. I stayed at the Storrie Lake State Park in New Mexico that first night. It was a lovely area with both campground camping, and a primitive area right next to the lake.

Wed. Aug. 31st

Since it was drizzly, Pugsly and I settled in with a good book.

Thurs Sept. 1. The second night I stayed at a wonderful spot in Kansas at Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area.

Another lakeside spot, but this time the weather was much more cooperative. I got in early enough to take the dogs exploring a bit.

Up the road a short ways is a boat ramp, and in the evening a man launched and did some evening fishing. That lake was so lovely, I stayed at it on the way back too!

Sunrise at the lake

Friday Sept 2. I arrived at my mom’s house in one piece, said my hellos and we took the dogs for a walk to the old punk house. There have been shows in this house continuously for 30 years. It’s amazing it’s still standing. Actually, the porch was replaced a number of years ago because it was starting to fall in. This anniversary had turned into a real spectacle, with the current residents obtaining city permits to block of the street, build a stage, and have a street party. I wasn’t terribly excited about our humble beginnings being turned into a festival – with street shows, bands at two different bars, and shows at the house – but I figured see how it all goes.

Mom got me sushi fixin’s and made most excellent sushi rice (gotta waft the rice as you add the vinegar to make it sticky but not clumpy) and I made a roll for dinner! Yay mom!

The house had been painted black for the occasion. Quite fitting.

“30 years of stupid” is a great summation.

This basement is where I spent many evenings during my formative years. It hasn’t changed much. It’s amazing the floor hasn’t collapsed down, or that the earth hasn’t just swallowed this house of noise to rid itself of the pests.

My poor cell phone couldn’t get very good night shots, but suffice to say, it was great! So many bands have passed through those doors, there really was no way to showcase many of them if this had been held in just the basement. I am still impressed by how well-organized the whole weekend was. Kudos to the young punks. (geez, I sound old.)

It’s amazing how people you knew 30 years ago so often look just like the kids you once knew. Memory does amazing things with recognition. My old friends look like the same punks I knew 30 years ago. Sure, a little weight, some wrinkles, a touch of gray, but I barely see those changes in my dear, long-time friends.

and I made friends with a dragon!wA3oC498dLK7g6KIlpzzJMogBEUBQVknyeImn-Lm

In Carbondale, Il. “Castle Park” aka “Jeremy Rochman Memorial Park” was built by a dad after his son died. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/jeremy-rochman-memorial-park

My mom and I went through a box of old photos and found some gems.

a beaver home on Snake River 1978?

my dad and me…not sure where

I stayed through the weekend until Tuesday morning. After living in the arid South West for so many years, I’d forgotten not only what summer midwest humidity feels like, but also how ferocious mosquitoes and other bitey bugs are out there. I think the first one to bite me told his friends that there was fresh meat in town, and they all came to feast. Ow!

Tuesday Sept 6th. morning it was time to go. The dogs were overwhelmed.

Pugsly’s enthusiasm knows no bounds.

I went back to Chase State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area, but it was very windy all night so our night there wasn’t as nice as the previous visit.

Wed Sept 7. This drive back was more leisurely and I found that not having to worry about time made for a much more fun adventure. My daily destination was more flexible and relaxed. It was great. I had two things to accomplish: visit Valley of the Gods, Utah and make it back to Prescott, Arizona by Sunday.

I couldn’t find much for boondocking in Eastern Colorado in my searching before the trip, and probably should have posted up in some forums for advice, so I stayed at another campground. It was pricey, difficult to find a level spot, and not terribly scenic.

We did get a lovely sunrise, however.

Pugsly was happy to have a new, homemade quilt gifted to us by an old friend back home.

Thurs. Sept. 8th. On the way to our next campering location in the mountains of Colorado, we stopped for Thai food in Poncha Springs, Co! Thai take-out! How cool is that? My Pad Thai was fairly bland, but having Thai take-out at camp was absolutely lovely.

The high plains nestled in the heights of the Rockies feel very different the low plains of Kansas or Oklahoma. There’s a finite space up there as the open range slopes upwards into the mountains. The Rockies are intimidating. Driving through the mountains I felt invasive, as if the mountain range could decide to close its yawing mouth and swallow me whole at any time. I felt I must ask permission to tread in this elevated wilderness, and go lightly lest I disturb a sleeping giant.

It seems that almost each new campering location becomes my new favorite. This was no exception. See my camper there to the right?

Sometimes I wonder if my mind really cannot take in this amazing beauty. Whether it is the mysteries of the forested hillsides of the Rockies, or the vast expanse of the desert Southwest. With my eyes open to it all I don’t know that I’m truly feeling the brilliant beauty that I witness. The views reflect against the sun into my eyes but sometimes I wonder if the intensity makes it very far even though I want to have it envelope and overwhelm me.

Instead, I read.

Or try to….

Friday Sept. 9th. Friends in Denver suggested I go visit. Since it was only a 2.5 hour drive from where I was camped, and I had time(!). I took a detour north. What a great thing to be able to do!

Sat. Sept 10. After leaving Denver, I headed towards Valley of the Gods. Since the weather forecast said highs of 93°F, I decided I’d go spend some time in Durango and try to arrive at the VotG just before sundown in hopes that it had cooled off to a more reasonable temperature. One of the nice things about the desert is that once the sun goes down, it cools down rapidly. Unlike the sauna that is southern Illinois.

I got a salad to go in Durango, and we lounged across from the bicycle path, next to the Animas River.

When I got to the Utah state line, I pulled in to take photos with the camper and dogs. Instead, I found this group of young travelers from “all around Europe”. I took a group photo of them with their cameras, and got one with my own.

I headed into Valley of the Gods, but it wasn’t late enough in the day and it was still painfully hot.

Instead of staying and suffering through the heat – and making the dogs suffer – I headed south to the Navajo National Monument.

When I was 9 years old my mom and I visited the Navajo National Monument south and west of Kayenta, Az. It is a canyon and cliff dwellings, among other amazing sights. During that visit, I saw a desert storm on the other side of the canyon and a subsequent rainbow. It transfixed me. I remembered that moment, but not the location. A few months ago my mom told me where that moment happened. It’s been on my list to visit since.

Betakakin Overlook area. I got set up just in time for sunset. That further glow is the canyon.

In the morning, Argos and I took a little walk

but didn’t make it down to the overlook before it started to drizzle.

I was hoping to see another rainbow, and the folks at the Visitor Center said I just missed one. That was good enough for me!

We took a short walk past the Visitor Center, but Pugsly got tired before we made it to the cliff dwellings.

I’ll be back soon.

Sun. Sept. 11. It is only about a 3.5 – 4 hour drive back to my cottage, so we went right home from there.

Every time I go on the road I learn something new. This time, I got to rekindle old friendships, visit with my family, learned more about how stress-less campering can be without time pressure, and worked on being flexible. A few months ago, I would have stayed at Valley of the Gods even with the painful sun because that is where I’d planned to stay. I might not have gone to Denver (and had a great time with new and old friends) because it hadn’t been in my itinerary. The ability to be flexible and know how to find good locations to camp is necessary to cultivate. As usual, while indoor plumbing is nice, I wasn’t ready to come back to the brick and mortar.

Tacoma rear-seat platform mod

Since I got my FWC on my truck, I’ve been wanting a better way to pack my gear in the truck (and travel with the dogs)

A month ago or so, I took the rear seats out and have been researching platform ideas. I found a lot of great photos and started to plan.

As a lot of early planning goes, my plans were bigger than my stomach… er… my plans were bigger than my eyes… um. My plans were fairly grandiose.

My ultimate goal was economy of cost and a functional and secure platform.

I was planning to just take some plywood for a top, and some 2x4s for legs. One night a couple of weeks ago, I found this metal frame in an alley, and decided to use it. It’ll definitely give me a stronger backbone than just plywood.

The only problem was that it was about 6″ too wide and so it stuck out the truck door. That wasn’t going to work.

A friend had a cut-off wheel and mig welder, so I borrowed his tools and set to work.

Got the extraneous pieces cut out.

and it was time to do some hoopty welding.
There are no photos of my wields because I’m terribly out of practice and my beads were rather ugly.
I did have at least one good run tho 😉

Hey! It fits now! Yay!

Yesterday, I went to Home Depot, picked out some 1/2″ plywood, and had them cut it to size there (what a great service! Woot!)

You can see those triangle tabs sticking up on the frame? I left those on to use as tie-down points for whatever stuff I pack in there, but it meant that I needed to cut some holes in the wood top for them to fit through.

After my grandpa died in 2001, I got his red Craftsman toolbox and some of his tools, including his old jigsaw.

Unfortunately, somewhere over the years, the set-screw got cross-threaded, so the damn blades wouldn’t stay in and kept stripping out. I got some cuts done before the cussing commenced, then the impatience set in and I took a rather large drill bit to the cut.

That left me with some rather ugly areas and it still wasn’t wide enough.

I sent a friend a text message and luckily, he had a brand new Black and Decker I could use! Yay!

Bing, bang, boom! Zippo, Presto! Had it done in just a couple of minutes.
Still ugly, but functional. I’m okay with that.

The guy at Home Depot had recommended I use a piano hinge for this to give me a more solid and less flexy movement. Seemed like a good idea…

Until it wasn’t.

Der. Measure twice! Gotta remember that….

Back to Home Depot to get some different hinges. I got a three pack and quickly discovered that the screws were too long for the top (went through the wood, and pushed up against the metal) and that I didn’t have the right drill bit to make starter holes for the screws in the metal of the platform.

Fergeddabouddit. It was getting too hot to be working outside anymore anyway, so I decided to do hinges later. I do want to put them in though so that I can have decent access to the built-in cubbies on the floor.

(please pardon the dirty – got this pic right after I took the first seat out. Built in cubbies: )

So I got the platform set in the truck

and put my stuff back in.

Works!

A few things I want to do:

– I need to get a better drill bit to make holes in the metal part for the hinge screws
– I’d like to cover the wood with some cloth for splinter avoidance
– A better way to bolster the frame legs other than pieces of 2×4
– Vaguely considering making an upper shelf so things aren’t just stacked up and I can utilize the space more efficiently.
– Need to figure out a good way to secure the platform to the truck and ‘stuff’ to the platform
(I’m paranoid about getting into an accident and having stuff flying about inside. Saw a video in EMT class years ago about an unseatbelted back seat person who bounced around the car in an accident and killed the other three people. Eep)

Cayuse suggested I put thin closed cell foam for the top of the wood before I put the fabric cover on to make it more comfy for Argos doggie. That’s a good idea because then I don’t have to deal with the clumsy dog bed back there.

When I took the seats out, I left the outside mounts in. I can use those as mounting points for the platform but have to figure out how, exactly. I’m thinking zip-ties won’t do the trick. (Also, should have a mount forward too for better anchor of everything….)

Considering turnbuckles, hose-clamps….