Sunday, May 03, 2015

Modern lights for a vintage trailer

 

After our amazing trip to Yosemite, I immediately came home and started planning another trip to Yosemite in the fall. Since the campgrounds in the valley are ‘dry camping’ – no electric or water, I started researching how long my battery would last. When the battery runs out, my lights and furnace stops working, and the Airstream becomes an aluminum tent! So I decided it was time to bite the bullet and invest in LED lighting for the trailer.

I had looked into this two years ago, but wasn’t ready to spend the cash. I contacted Dan at LED4RV.com because he was highly recommended on Airforums.com. People reported back that he helped them pick out the right bulbs, and if there were any problems he made it right. I only want to do this once, so that sounded good to me! We discussed it via email, and finally over the phone to work out the details on which bulbs would fit my vintage cone lamps, and a week later it was in my hands!

The square ceiling fixtures were the only tricky part – he sells a kit of mixed color LED strips that are adhesive backed, so they need to be stuck into place. But that only took about 15 minutes per fixture. The rest of the bulbs all just plugged in exactly like the 12v bulbs had.

The finished product has just the right color of light to give it the same cozy feeling inside it has always had, and the quality of the light itself feels even brighter.

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So that’s the tour – all 17 feet of it! While I was in there I de-winterized, cleaned the screen on the ceiling vent, tested the water heater and the furnace, pulled out the broken shower hose that needs replacing, and tidy-ed up a bit. Now we just need the annual trip to the tire guys to have the running gear checked out for the season, and we will be ready for our 12th year of camping in our little 1968 Airstream Caravel.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

CA Adventure Part 5–San Francisco

 

We headed out of Yosemite into the endless flat farmland of the central valley. Not much to say about that. We ended up in:

 

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Modesto!

We stayed at a hotel right in town. ON the way in I had looked up a place for dinner, and Yelp recommended a pizza place attached to a motorcycle shop. When we checked in we mentioned it to the guy at the front desk to get a local’s opinion – ‘oh, that place, no, that’s a dive. Besides, it’s too full of kids and families. I’ll tell you where to go…’ He gave us the name of another place. When I looked it up on Yelp, people pretty much said it was a dank dive bar. We went with the pizza place, and it was good!

 

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Not much to say about Modesto, but in the morning we had a walk around and saw this historic mansion right behind our hotel. Kind of cool. Unfortunately, not open on Mondays.

 

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We continued the long, boring drive back to civilization.

 

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One of the things on my to-do list was to drive over the Marin Headlands and get a picture of the bridge from up high. There were a surprising number of people doing the same thing, and the pull-offs were actually packed full! I was really happy with this shot though.

 

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We continued up to this old battery Rathbone – McIndoe.

 

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Back around to the bridge, we took another loop up to see if we could stop at any of the other overlooks, but they were packed. Though we had some nice views of the beaches.

 

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There’s something about seeing that iconic bridge that is breathtaking every time. It’s so amazing to be looking at it in person!

 

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We finally headed across it to spend some time in the city before heading to San Jose for our flight.

 

 

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The Palace of Fine Arts. We walked all around the outside. They were between exhibits, so they only had a tiny inside area open to the public.

 

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Dave found a Weeping Angel. Well, maybe not, but a bit creepy, all the same.

 

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Down to Fisherman’s Warf…We wandered around and stopped for an In & Out burger then went and found a bench to eat at while watching the bay. We actually planned this lunch specifically to have one of those before we left CA, because we kept hearing how great they were – it was the most bland burgers we’ve had! Now I have to question the taste of anyone who tells me they thing those are awesome. They were the same quality I would expect out of your basic cafeteria – nothing to write home about.

 

 

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With lunch out of the way we went and drove that steep windy road, because we hadn’t done it before, and it seems like everyone should do it at least once! Then we went and checked out the tower on the hill. But time was running out, we had to head back to San Jose.

 

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This is how the San Jose Airport greets you. Is it just me, or are the disembodied hands kind of creepy? It’s not just me, right? Up close it was kind of a cool artwork. It was mesh panels with round white pieces – think of large pop bottle caps stuck into a chain link fence –that were the pixels to make up the image. Creative!

 

 

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The airport had this crazy piece of security art. It had cameras and screens showing what it’s cameras saw, and the insect-like body rotated around as it took in everybody in the area. It was pretty fascinating.

And that was it. Well, almost. Dave missed a quarter in his pocket, causing him to get singled out for the rubber glove treatment. Once they discovered the quarter, it seemed a bit punitive to continue feeling him up, but hey, TSA’s got to do what they got to do. Soon as they were done with that, we were back on a plane identical to the one that had started our adventure, and a short time later were back on the tarmac at PDX. Picked up the dogs from Scott & Sherry, and went back to our regular lives.

It’s so hard to go back to work and sit in a cubicle after having an adventure like this. Hopefully we will squeeze a few more in before summer is over.

 

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

CA Adventure Pt 4 - Yosemite

 

The next morning we got up bright and early, packed up and piled into the rental, and headed off to spend our day at Yosemite. Because we had had a big dinner, neither of us was interested in breakfast yet, so we headed straight for the park.

First thing you see as you come into the park is this cool granite tunnel. Would an Airstream even FIT through there?!

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Initially I was frustrated because I knew there was a great view of the valley, and as we followed the road in, I understood where that view was, I just couldn’t see it from our side of the loop road. It is from an overlook that you only see on the road on the way OUT of the valley! So we drove in and stopped at the sights along the way as we wound our way back there.

The first sight once you get to the main loop is El Capitan across the meadow on the other side of the river..

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And Bridalveil Falls on the road side. We didn’t walk back to it, we’ll save that for when we have more time.

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Lesson 1: Everything at Yosemite is bigger than you ever imagined! It’s breathtakingly HUGE, and around every corner is another jaw dropping, amazing mountain of rock rising up impossibly high. It’s just stunning.

We continued along the loop and as soon as there was a place to turn around we went back towards El Capitan Meadow, stopping there for a few minutes to look around. Now we could see Cathedral Rocks and Spires, which we couldn’t see from the other side of the loop when we were at their base! Again, they are impossibly huge and imposing.

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Dave snapped a picture of me searching the walls around El Capitan for rock climbers.

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Bridalveil again, but from the other side of the river…

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We continued down the road and missed the turnout, had to park and walk back to it – we finally found Valley View. THAT’S what I was waiting for!

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I could have looked at this all day.

Dave snapping a picture of El Capitan

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We finally got going back on the loop towards the visitors center, and stopped to pull off at the Swinging Bridge with a view of Yosemite Falls and Sentinel Dome.

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Grabbed a friendly stranger and had them snap a pic of Dave and I

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Continuing past the visitor’s center we finally got a great view of Half Dome on the right, and Royal Arches and North Dome on the left.

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Again, just so so big. So big. I don’t even have words for how impressive all this is. If I had time I would have liked to just pull out a chair and sit there all day watching the light and shadows change on the rocks as the sun moved across the sky. But this trip was just going to be a quickie.

We headed back to the visitor’s center, talked to a helpful person at the desk and decided to take the Mirror Lake trail after lunch, as a way to get off the main road and see a bit more before the day was out. We went in the visitor’s center and watched a short movie about the history of Yosemite. After watching it I felt so grateful and touched that people so long ago had worked to preserve it for us to visit today!

And here’s the other thing. I know it was partly because we were there in the off season, but it felt like we almost had the place to ourselves. There were a lot of people there, but it didn’t really feel that way at any of the stops. It wasn’t annoyingly crowded anyway. Lots of foreigners, which was interesting, it seemed like every person we heard talking was speaking a different language. But still, when we wanted to stop and just stare in wonder at something, we could do it and didn’t feel pushed to hurry up and move on.

After resting at the movie, we tried to swing by the deli and pick up lunch, but everyone had the same idea at the same time, and the place was slammed! There was a little store there and so instead we picked up some pre-packaged snacks – jerky, a muffin, chips, some drinks, etc, and jumped on the bus to get to the trailhead for Mirror Lake.

The path to Mirror Lake was beautiful. It wound through tall trees, and giant boulders. It was an easy walk, reminded me of the trails at BG Lake.

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Mirror Lake was really just a wide spot in the river.  There was a big stone out there, and the lake reflected the granite walls of the valley.

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The river went over a little natural dam and down some rocks, and we sat on a boulder at the bottom of that and ate our lunch and watched people carefully pick their way across the log jam, waiting to see them fall in!

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This was one of my favorite shots of the trip. They made it!

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We headed on back, and I took a picture of Dave on the trail

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Right before a giant rock fell on him – ha ha

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Nah, just goofin’ around! Here I had him pause on the trail to give some scale to the boulders on either side. I couldn’t believe we were just walking through this amazing rock fall.

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Along the way we stopped and watched as this couple decided to wade across the river.

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Back through the tall trees on the way back.

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Unfortunately, this was all the time we had, we needed to get started back towards San Jose before it got too late. We rode the shuttle back to our car and headed out, stopping at Valley View one last time for another picture now that the sun was lighting up this side of the cliffs. It’s so magnificent, it’s just amazing.

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We headed out of the valley, up a long hill, and along the way we saw a couple pull offs. We stopped at the last one before it looked like we would be over the hill and gone. We looked back towards the valley and what did we see? A breathtaking view of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Cathedral just over the ridges.

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The pull out had a marker with a 3D Half Dome to compare to the real thing.

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And that was our last glimpse of beautiful Yosemite Valley. But we’ll be back again. I definitely did NOT see enough of Yosemite.

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