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Subaru XV CrossTrek

Posted on 29 May 2014

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Bring on the Subaru…. No, I didn’t get rid of my truck. A man needs his 4×4. We did however replace my wife’s POS VW passat with something a bit more….our style. When we first bought the Passat I felt like I had purchased my first grown up car. It had so many wonderful features and was refined and comfortable. What I learned is that all those little features cause big headaches and expensive repairs, not just down the road but constantly. I also learned that I really value the utility of a car not necessarily the refinement. I don’t really need a burl-wood dash. The climate control drove me crazy as I heard it constantly switching modes as I drove down the road trying to keep my non-existent passenger as comfortable as I. The electric 6 way adjustable seats were nice but not needed. How hard is it to pull the lever up and scoot? How often do people adjust their seat after the first time anyway? The buttons fell off the radio randomly and were never to be found again and cost like 20 bucks to replace and we had put a lot of money into repairs in the short time we had the car. Lastly the need for premium fuel and the 6.5 quart oil changes just pushed me too far. My truck doesn’t even take as much oil as that car. Every fluid is special from the dealer and even oil filters weren’t available except through the dealer or the internet. VW feels like a quality product but in reality it was just a big money pit that we started to find rather untrustworthy. I hate to say it but I think my German car days are over. I once had someone tell me my yard looked like a German redneck lived there based on all the VW Van projects I had going.

I don’t mean to make people mad but in my humble opinion, Japanese cars are just built better. I have owned my share of German cars, American cars, and Japanese cars over the years and the Japanese cars just run. You change the oil, the tires, the brakes, and maybe a battery and they just keep running. We decided the XV CrossTrek from Subaru fit our needs perfectly. Capable enough to handle the rough roads we occasionally drive with awesome gas mileage (33 MPG) Highway and an excellent safety rating to boot. I also like that the car has enough refinement to be comfortable yet not all the unnecessary gadgets that always brake. And lets face it Subaru caters to active people who need their cars to do more that just drive on the freeway. I drove a rental car for work the other day (American Muscle with a slight Italian accent) that had rear heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a button you could push (through a menu of course in the console) that made all the head rests in the rear sets fold flat. Is that really needed? I did enjoy not needing to insert the key to make the car run but really is that really more than a gimmick? The modern day 4×4 is pretty much a dying breed here in the US. Replaced by Cross Over SUV vehicles that have zero capability offroad and 27 cup holders in just the back seat alone. The cross part leans more toward the mini van market than a 4×4. What this country needs in my opinion is to bring some of the Diesel utility 4×4 vehicles available everywhere else except the US and revive the dying market. Something like the 70 series land-cruisers would be awesome. How come everyone else gets the fun toys. It really can’t be that there aren’t enough people who want this type of vehicle.

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All, Transportation, Travel

Glamping

Posted on 08 March 2014

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Next time you go camping think about the costs associated with all the gear you bring along with you. What kind of experience are you looking to have in your travels. Which photo above appeals more to you I guess? You don’t have to answer me obviously and if you like the parking lot I won’t hold it against you. but I wanted to share my perspective.

I have been watching the videos at www.xoverland.com over the last couple of months. The crew at X Overland have taken a couple of trucks and a military grade trailer and built them up for long distance travel. They wanted to have a mix of on and off highway roads and to bring a few comforts along the way to make the trip more enjoyable. In addition they happen to bring a film crew and needed a bit of additional space for all the equipment needed for professional quality video production. The did a great job of capturing the essence of “Overlanding” along the way. The episodes that have posted on YouTube and their own site have been fun to watch and motivating for those of us stuck at home that can’t get out and take the road to Prudhoe Bay from Seattle… at least yet. I won’t lie it is on my bucket list near the very top.

Watching their videos got me thinking about the different types of campers that I know. There are the Hard Core ultra light backpackers all the way to the we need to bring everything we own with us including a garage space to hold all the toys RVers. Obviously there is a wide range in-between as well. I myself like the vehicle based travel. There is something to be said for a comfy bed, some shelter when it is stormy, and a semblance of a rough kitchen. I don’t mind a tent but prefer a bit fancier bed such as a roof top tent or a converted van but I like being flexible enough to drive some moderately rough roads and the solitude of an unofficial camp spot. There are trade offs and limitations as to where you can go once you decide to bring a bigger rig. Camp grounds can be fun at times but mostly are full of people sitting inside their RV running the AC (and generator) all day watching movies. RV parks are akin to Dante’s vision of the afterlife for me. I am not sure I understand the allure of traveling long distance to stop in a parking lots watching TV which you could do at home. There are times when long distance travel is fun in an RV but mostly the places I want to go don’t include pavement the entire way and the bigger the rig you have the more work travel is and the less flexibility you can have along the way. Even stopping for gas becomes an enormous chore. With that said I guess you need to understand that all the stuff with you ends up determining what experience you have. If you want to be close to nature the best way is the Ultra Light Backpack and your feet. The more stuff you bring the less “fun” experience you get and the more time it seems to me that you spend your free time organizing and dealing with your gear. RV’s are nice but do you really need hardwood floors, Granite counter tops, and glass chandeliers? So often I see the giant RV pulling a jeep down the road as a toy that is the vehicle you really want to do when you get there anyway. Think of all the money you spent on the RV and how many trips you could have taken in the jeep without it. I have even spotted jeeps with jeep trailers being taken on another trailer pulled by the motor home. It just doesn’t make to much sense to me. A small camper or trailer is one thing but big screen TV’s and washer/Dryer combos seem to be beyond what I would consider traveling. If you live in it full time that is one thing. Even then I don’t see a need for all the space unless you are taking your family with you. Taking it out on the weekend is extreme no matter how you look at it and just shows how much excess we live in here in the US. Just my Rant. In my experience the most seasoned travelers in the group most often have the least amount of truck to bring along with them.

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All, Life, Transportation

Like Minded Individuals

Posted on 23 February 2014

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What happens when you get a bunch of strangers together that share a common passion? You get a bunch of people that act like old friends in short order.

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All, Life

Old Pics

Posted on 12 February 2014

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I have been tackling a huge job that I have been putting off for a very long time. I purchased a slide scanner about 10 years ago that I never really used. I scanned a couple of pictures and since have been lugging this thing around with the intention of scanning in all my parents old slides.

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All, Life, Outside

Chinook Salmon

Posted on 28 January 2014

Chinook Salmon

Define success: this Chinook Salmon fish survived to adulthood and made an enormous journey out to the ocean and back to spawn in the very same spot in the river they were born. Success for a salmon could not have gone better. Expeditionary Learning taught me something new today as well as the Kindergartners performing their fieldwork.

Credit for Graphic http://library.stjosephsea.org/salmon.htm

Credit for Graphic http://library.stjosephsea.org/salmon.htm

 

The Kindergarten class spent the last few weeks nurturing their fish babies and today was the big release day. There were a few tears shed, some excellent notes of goodbye and well wishes were prepared and read, and the proud kindergartners release their babies into the world to make this same journey. We learned that dying on the edge of the same water they were born in is the greatest accomplishment of an adult Salmon and provide the food for the bugs that in turn became the food of the new babies shortly after. This was  a wonderful lesson of the cycle of life that happens all around each day as mother nature performs her grand duties.

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All, Outside, Travel

Muir Woods National Monument

Posted on 25 January 2014

Muir Woods National Monument

It is important in life to set apart some space that remains in its natural state. The Muir woods, minus the asphalt walking path, visitor center, and boardwalks, is one of those beautiful places.

Just minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco lies this easily accessed small patch of ancient Redwood Trees near Mil Valley, CA. The Kent family purchased the land in order to keep it preserved in its natural form and despite the residents suing to take the timber and use it to rebuild San Francisco after it burned in 1906 the Kents managed to save this beautiful piece of land by donating it to the Federal Government to designate as a park in 1908.

William Kent decided to name the park after one of his hero’s John Muir who is famous for founding the Sierra Club and also known as the father of the National Parks system. Muir dedicated his life to preserving small parts of the wilderness so that others may enjoy their beauty.

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All, Life

Eddie T Elf

Posted on 19 December 2013

Eddie T Elf

What is the true meaning of Christmas? This year the spirit of Christmas hit home for me tonight. I get a little grumpy around Christmas because I get sick of how materialistic the holiday becomes. It starts to be all about the useless crap you are going to get and give. The holiday season slowly turns into fighting traffic, standing in lines, and searching for parking places at retail outlets that are trying to bolster their end of year profit margins for the shareholders. I am not religious so for me Christmas has one purpose and that is to spend time with the people that matter most to you in life. I don’t always get to see them all in any particular Christmas but for me that is what the season is about. Sharing time with those you love. I also believe that the spirit of Christmas is that feeling of love that society is capable of to those other sometimes unknown people we share this planet with. Christmas seems to be a great time to help someone else and brighten their spirit in the process.

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All, Transportation

Pinzgauer 712k

Posted on 17 November 2013

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Thanks to Westcountyexplorersclub for posting this video. The US seems to keep making 4WD vehicles more car like. You won’t be following this vehicle in your crossover I’m afraid. A sweet Pinzgauer 712k on a quiet country test drive. One of the best Pinz videos I have seen. I love this vehicle. Too bad the US market seems more inclined to extra cup holders than off road capabilities and utility. Enjoy.

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All, Life, Outside

Night Time Lullabye Sierra Style

Posted on 08 November 2013

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Image borrowed from predatorhaven.blogspot.com

 

The coyotes have been singing to us nightly for the last few weeks. I have seen one out at dusk twice in two days now driving down the road. When they are in the yard we hear them very loudly even with the house closed up.  It is rather startling actually because they come out of nowhere and suddenly they let out a howl at full blast very loud. Tonight they were a hundred yards off or so across the street but it was fun to stand out and listen to them on the front porch. I think they got their dinner tonight. There isn’t a moon out so pretty dark video but the sounds are awesome. The dogs won’t even consider going outside when you can hear the coyotes this close. I love living in the forest.

 

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All, Life

Halloween Nevada City Style

Posted on 01 November 2013

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Nevada City, CA- This town doesn’t do anything half way. Halloween is no exception. I will be honest people dress up here whenever given the chance so Halloween is an incredible opportunity for the entire town to get involved. Trick-R-Treating is also pretty tough when most of the homes nearby sit on several acres. The answer is to diverge in one happy spot and take advantage of one of the best spaces we do have that is actually concentrated set of homes. It is amazing to be surrounded by such creative artistic people. There is such an energy that comes from this town and its people. We have an amazing community of folks that tend to bond around anything worthy of a party. The old Victorian homes from the turn of the last century are such a cool backdrop. Each one decorating heavily and handing out candy and balloon animals. They block off the entire street, have a parade, and the best Trick-R-Treating I have ever experienced. The amount of candy you collect is negligible but worth it. The best part is crowd watching. So many amazing costumes, well decorated homes, friendly people. The businesses at the bottom of the street get involved, the homes above that, and the hotel at the top, the Outside Inn makes a Haunted path for everyone to follow before heading back down the other side of the street. One of my favorite holidays since moving to this amazing place. If you ever get the chance to be here for Halloween you won’t be disappointed.

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