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Our Camper Van




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Outboard Hydroplane Racing

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Leaving Baker City, OR on 7/29/05

July 20, 2005 (A)

The three weeks previous, we spent parked in my parents' driveway in Redmond, WA. Many thanks to all our NSR friends gave us a nice sending away, at the keg-kick-ball party. Thanks also to the various friends who where able to get together with us before we left the Seattle area. Don't worry. We'll be back!

A GREAT BIG THANKS to Amy's parents for hosting us in their lovely, very level driveway. The dinners were gourmet, the daily fresh made juice was delicious, and the company was very nice.

Three days have passed since we left our parking spot in my parents drive-way to find another on my in-laws' property. As I had feared, our hectic list of trip-preparation-tasks has hardly abated.

At least I can say that the weather up here as been spectacularly warm and the scenery is beautiful. We even have internet up here in the boonies.

July 21, 2005 (A)

So like I said we have internet access. That wasn't the case on Monday. Apparently, some gophers had chewed through the fiber optic cable that fed outside access for all of the greater Baker City area (out here in po-dunk nowhere, we are always just within one step of oblivion! Chomp! Munch!). Apparently it was big enough new to make it onto the front-page of the Baker City newspaper.

A few chomps, and POOF! All of us were floating in the horrible void of net-lessness. Someone, pith me with a pointy stick quick! Fortunately, by the end of the day, they had been able to restore the broken line, and we were once again able to access civilization!

As for what else we've been up to lately, well let's just say that our Sportsmobile has a bit of home improvement to go. So far we've installed a motorcycle carrier on the rear hitch, and started to set up the housing/shelving for the main computer.

Our list of beefs so far in regards to the van that was delivered to us:

  • The Water System - The water heater (heat exchanger) was installed on the van externally, thus making it very susceptible to freezing. For goodness' sake everything else was installed with cold external temperatures in mind; they could have had the foresight to do the same with this!
  • The Solar Panels - We asked for them to be installed side by side so as to avoid having one of them shaded by a roof-carrier. So what did they do? They installed them along the spine of the van, so basically one of them is rendered useless, as it is completely shaded by the carrier.
  • The freak'n upholstery! - Jesus-tap-dancing-Christ! The buttons on the sofa are NOT, read - NOT supposed to pop off only ONE MONTH after delivery. We turned over the sofa and found almost all of the plastic stays (that hold the buttons on) were cracked, broken, or just plain no-longer-there.
  • All this does not even begin to cover some of the damage found under the van, which we can only assume came from the last-minute-panic-and-return-to-factory work done at Ford. This would include, bent radiator fins, a dent (mind you, not a scrape as you might find from driving over rough terrain but a dent, as in hmmm-lets-set-down-the-engine-on-the-floor-on-its-oil-pan-and-see-what-we-get-for-a-dent), scrapes along some of the frame work that are perpendicular to the axis of travel, to mention a few.

On top of getting all of that addressed, we wanted to add some shelves to improve space usage, some solar panels to aid our computer usage, a pressure tank on the water system to address water hammering, and an inverter. Wish I could say we were busy playing up here in the mountains, but unfortunately we aren't as of yet. Ugh.

Oh yeah, and we finally put the last screws into our storage shed yesterday, now to move all of our stuff in.

Lastly a word about visiting my in-laws. Lovely peeps, even if Ray is a bit strange. Did I mention that they have a vampire kitten for a pet? She thinks that my father-in-law is mommy. Naturally, that would make my Kirsten, mother-in-law, "mommy's girlfriend".

Lovely company, but if you are coming here for any amount of time, be sure to leave your electrical amenities at home (such as your blow-dryer, curling iron, et cetera), as they do live on solar alone. And be ready to stink a little because water is not for every-day showering when you live out in the middle of the desert. Mmmm. .Already craving the luxurious-carefree showers of the Northwest. Oh yeah, and I do miss my blow-dryer. But hey, not everybody wants a spa for a bathroom, like I do.

July 28, 2005 (E)

Today the final parts arrived for the Satellite internet system (its a Starband based system from Orbital Enterprises). I aligned the dish, plugged in the modem, and was almost dead on to the signal. Then the problems started. It seems that my account is not properly setup and of course no-one is home at tech-support (eastern time). The connection is there, and I can ping and traceroute, but they block all the interesting ports. (makes me think of looking for a TCP/IP over ping bridge that someone mentioned to me a few weeks ago)

We are still at my parents' place outside of Baker City, OR, but plan to leave in the morning for Amy's sister's place in Salt Lake City, UT, tomorrow morning.

Most of the equipment we ordered for outfitting the van has arrived by now, and we can live without the rest for a while (some RAM mounts for the laptop and LCD monitor, a bug shield for the hood, dual-sport kit for the XR250, and a set of passenger peg brackets for the XR).

The van now sports a 1400 watt Trace (Xantrex) UX inverter/charger for our power system, an 80 watt solar panel in addition to the existing 2x56 watt panels, and the 56 watters were moved to the top of our roof box for better exposure to the sun. To test the new power-system out we fired up the computer and watched a movie in the van (Harry Potter 2) with the video on the 21" LCD (TFT actually) and the sound routed through the van's new audio system. Not bad at all, though I really miss my sub.

We also installed a small pressure tank on the water system, and this helped with the noise and shaking of the pipes tremendously.

Sportsmobile has sent us a new set of buttons for the sofa, saying that it is a known problem where the button backings break, and the new ones should work better.

We did not have time to address the uninsulated heat-exchanger for the water, and will have to do this later. Sportsmobile did admit that it will freeze right quick when things get cold and that for our usage it probably should be moved into the cabin.

July 30, 2005 (E)

Spent yesterday driving to Salt Lake City, UT from my parents' place in Baker City, OR. The drive was fairly uneventful, though we only got going about 11:30am. The delay was due to the satellite modem setup, which I finally got setup in the morning, but it took a bit of time to go through the activation system, and then tear everything down and pack it up.

I did try RDP over the VPN into work using the satellite system, and it is SLOW. Actually worse than 56k dial-up because of the latency issues. The images/windows come down quick enough, but mouse and keyboard response is much delayed. I suppose I will have to get use to typing a few words ahead of what I can actually see reflected in the screen. Now that we are in SLC I can just snarf wi-fi off of an open access point using my nifty new external 8db wi-fi antenna that I mounted to the roof-rack. Snappy response and free.

Oh, I updated the van info page with some of the modifications we did while in Baker.

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