Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Efficient Teardrop packing

Let's face it: we all have our own unique, obsessive compulsive (read: irritating) ways to pack. There is an order. Do not disturb the order. May the order be with you.

Each time we go on a trip we try to pare down a little bit as well as try to streamline the packing and unpacking process.

My traditional "staring routine" begins while packing for a trip. I do the same thing when building a piece of furniture. I stare a lot at the lumber, flip boards around, step back, stare, move another board, step back, stare, you get the idea.

I like to think I'm more efficient, but I spend so much time obsessing over efficiency that I'm not efficient anymore. (Whoa, that was as epiphany. I need to stare and ponder that last sentence a bit.)

This last trip I made a little pile of "stuff" that we haven't used.  It included:

- A table cloth and the clips that hold it on a table (Never used it. Ever.)
- A tupperware of bungee cords and rope (I have bungees and rope in the truck already.)
- A large solar lantern (We have a small one that's brighter & we don't really use the large one.)
- A giant pot lid (What the hell do I have this for?)

I also packed a bunch of items into two rectangular plastic bins with lids on this trip. The space and tidiness you create from this one little thing is amazing.

I put round items into one of the bins: two dish buckets and a compost bucket. I stuffed the buckets with two rag rugs, a folding rug, a small folding step stool and a solar lantern.

I put wood scraps* and newspaper into a tall bin with a lid.  I usually use a small metal trash can for wood scraps.

Goodbye round space hogs! I said good day, Sir!!

Round is wrong. WRONG! Really, who designed round storage? We don't have round refrigerators or round cabinets, or round truck beds. We have angles. To maximize storage capacity we should have angular storage containers.


*I'm not talking about logs and twigs from home. I'm talking about dimensional lumber that's been kiln dried from my wood shop. DON'T transport wood from home for your campfire. We, the Campers, must be responsible and buy firewood locally near our campsite.  We, the Campers, must walk the walk. We, the Campers, must set an example. Invasive species of insects are wiping out trees because of thoughtlessness. We, the Campers, must tread lightly.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Teardrop camping at Cranberry Lake

Cranberry Lake, New York: a great spot to have your morning coffee and a blueberry muffin.

The hardest thing to do on vacation is nothing. It's hard to do nothing when we're all so connected all the time, every second, every minute. A text here, check the weather, Facebook, did so-and-so email?, gotta write a note --- on my phone.

Cranberry Lake has no cell service. No outside world. The world won't end if I don't have cell service, but damn I'm as addicted as everyone else so I had a wee bit of a OMG WTH am I going to do without my little crack pipe phone??!! 

Yes, the great existential question is Who are You without your crack phone? WHO are YOU?

I'm on the verge of a rant so I think I'll just zip it for now.

Cranberry Lake. Disconnect.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Wheel bearing replacement is pretty damn easy

Wheel bearing replacement and re-pack  -----  done and done.

This is a pretty straight forward job. Take the wheel off, tap out the outer bearing, tap out the inner bearing, inspect for any pitting or damage, grease up the bearings, tap them back in, put the wheel back on.

I'm going to put up a bunch of pics here to show the process:

Jack up the trailer and take off the wheel. (It's a good idea to wear latex gloves when you do this job because it's greasy and nasty.)

Take out the cotter pin. Throw it away. Don't re-use it; buy a new one.

Unscrew the nut and take the wheel off.

Inspect the axle for any damage.

Time to pop out the outside bearing! There's a grease seal that holds the bearing in. Flip the hub over and tap the lip of the seal. A large socket works great for this, or a metal punch. Be gentle, yet forceful. Tap all the way around the seal until it pops out.

You can re-use the seal if you don't damage it.

Viola! Here's the outer bearing and eeeek! Look at that bulge on the left upper top!  I must say, I LOVE finding and fixing a problem. 

I guess I'm not re-packing, I'm replacing.

Fortunately, there's a NAPA within walking distance.  I bought the set, which is two bearings and two grease seals. 

I used a wooden block to pop out the grease seal. I'm tapping out the inside grease seal in this pic.

Clean out all the old grease with a rag. Inspect the inspect the inside for any damage.

Reverse the steps to re-assemble. Install the inner bearing first.

Liberally grease up the bearing, making sure grease is pushed through the bearings. Set it in the hub and place the grease seal on top and tap it in. Make sure you grease up the inside of the hub.

Be careful here; if you have a socket or a piece of wood use that to tap it in. You don't want to damage the grease bearing.

It's really hard to get the inner bearing set if you don't have something roughly the same diameter (slightly smaller) than the grease bearing.

Fortunately, I have a lot of woodworking tools and I had something...

This is a tenon cutting bit I have that fit perfectly in the hub.

A few taps and it was set in.

Slip the wheel on the axle, tighten the nut finger tight only! Put the new cotter pin end and bend the ends around the axle.

Bam! Done. And it didn't fall off when we went to Cranberry Lake, so I guess I did it right. 

Isn't that what most of us think when we undertake something we haven't done before? The "I must have screwed this up somehow yadda yadda yadda."

Well, people, I'm here to tell you that little insecure inner voice can suck it!  (I actually just sang that line, so I encourage you all sing it out as well). 

You can do anything.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

I've got the hatch blues

I have to be honest: My hatch sucks. (Insert sigh and grumpy face here.)

It doesn't make a solid enough connection to the Teardrop when it's closed. It's too heavy, and I installed the hurricane hinge too short.

I've learned so much since building the Teardrop that the current hatch simply won't do.  I fixed the hinge leak, but now there's a leak somewhere halfway down the hatch. Boo!! Hiss!!

Now I could tinker with the hatch forever, but am I just putting off the inevitable?  Shouldn't I just build a new hatch?  I'm leaning strongly towards it.

Right now I'm thinking the new hatch will have aluminum tubing for the frame and every piece of wood will be primed and painted with marine grade paint on all four sides. That's as far as I've gotten in the thinking phase, probably because it's overwhelming to think about.

I've got until January to get it done. Six months seems like a very reasonable timeline.  Oh yeah, but there's a To-Do List for the rest of my life, like building a solar kiln, finishing a micro-house on wheels I started last year, putting a metal roof on the shed, building an end-grain butcher block cabinet...You know, little things.

It's Five o'clock - it's cocktail time!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Repack trailer bearings

Last year I got a little too close to a curb and popped of the dust cap on one of the trailer wheels.  I didn't notice this for a long, long time.  When I did notice it, I 'll admit it, I kind of ignored it. Lazy is not good, never has been, never will be.

This past January while in Florida I saw a GIANT bulge on the sidewall of the trailer tire and had it changed out. The mechanic noticed a serious wobble in wheel. Turns out it was very unhappy bearings due to that dust cap being off for too long (cough, cough, cough -lazy-).

Well, the time has come to repack the bearings. Doesn't look too hard.  Take the wheel off, pop off the dust cap, take out the cotter pin, remove the bearing, clean the gunk off, repack it with grease, put it back on (with a new cotter pin).

How hard can that be? I even ordered myself a bearing packer, $10 at amazon.

Let's get dirty!  Woo!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Five things I don’t need while camping

In no particular order, here are the five things I don’t really need:

1. Cocktail shaker. 

Yes, I love my cocktails. But, if I have a ball jar with a lid, then I have a cocktail shaker. Really, what can’t you use the almighty Ball jar for?

My name is Leah, and I have a Ball jar addiction.

2. Grill top for the Camp Chef stove

I’ve found that this is unnecessary and bulky. Besides, I have my new bestie, the Coleman Oven, what more could I need? Other than a Ball jar.

3. Plastic cups, not the disposable kind, more like the picnic kind

No thanks, I like drinking out of glass.  Gee, how about a Ball jar?

What’s that? Did I hear “wah, wah, wah, they might break, wah, wah, wah.”  Wrap them up, Dopey.

I feel a tangent coming on about using disposable kitchenware, or disposable anything, but I’ll hold myself back. I just think disposables are wasteful and unnecessary. 

4.  Any form of radio, cd player, stereo

I don’t go camping to force everyone to listen my music.  Many other people do, and I judge you.  

This is one of those things that I should just accept while camping.  Someone will be playing loud music, chugging cheap beer and hoo-haaing all night long at some point during any camping trip.  If I’m really lucky some drunken fool will light off fireworks, “woooo-hoooo!!! aint that fun?!”  Um, no, it’s not, and I hope you blow off a finger.

The silver lining is that most people don't have the endurance to do this for more than one night. It takes training, commitment, and dedication to abuse your liver two consecutive nights in a row.  Most people simply don’t have the gumption.

Darn it, I don’t have a Ball jar reference to insert here!

5. Onion, garlic and black pepper (terrifying, isn’t it?)

Amelia has allergies, a LOT of allergies. They’re the hive-inducing, facial-swelling kind of allergies.

I enjoy a good challenge so I've adjusted, and I must admit, it’s been a great lesson in cooking. Learning how to season simply is wonderful. 

Dry mustard is my new friend.  I used to say, “black pepper is the unsung hero of the spice world”.   Understated, yet crucial to so many dishes. Well, dry mustard has now taken over the unsung hero role in our kitchen.

When Amelia lists off her allergies people's eyes glaze over, some freak out a bit. I just think, really?  Freak out about the real shit, like cancer and bird-eating squirrels.  Adaptation is part of evolution. Adapt, or go extinct.

No Ball jar reference here either. Dang!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Teardrop Trailer vs. House

After living in forty square feet for a month, walking into our eight hundred square foot home felt downright overwhelming.  

We walked into every room and took a visual inventory of the "stuff" that made up our home.  Why did we choose this or that? How many plates do we really need? Whose stuff is this?  Things felt foreign and unnecessary.

I saw an extraneous clutter of stuff everywhere.  Stashed away in drawers, shelves, and closets. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff.  I had the same feeling last year when we came back, but this time it was much more extreme.  It was time to clear the clutter out, give it away, sell it and not replace it. Ever.

So we begin trimming the fat, paring down, purging, culling the herd of possession, and assessing the importance of our material possessions.

It's amazing how little I truly need, and what I've gotten used to carrying with me and clinging onto for years, decades even. This "stuff" just accumulates over time: "I need this, have to have that, this thing will change my life!”  We all have a tendency to hoard even on the smallest scale. How many spoons do you have? We have sixteen eating spoons and five serving spoons. Twenty-one spoons, two people.

The truth is, if you have halfway decent stuff, someone else will own it someday. You are not permanent; you’re going to die someday.  Other people will own this house, the Teardrop, my books, my banjo, my clothes, my tools, my truck.  Because none of this is really mine.  These items are temporarily in my possession.  I just happen to be the current lien holder of these things.

Before we left on our January trip I started putting aside clothes I hadn’t worn in a while.  It quickly went from a few things to a heaping pile of textiles.  I had easily removed one third of my wardrobe, and I haven’t missed a single thread of it.  Will this stop me from buying shoes? Don’t be silly. I will always buy shoes.


Monday, February 4, 2013

My Five Teardrop Galley Essentials

These are some of my favorite Teardrop galley essentials.  They're in no particular order.

I’m combining two items into one because they belong together. A happy little morning couple:

1a. Bodum French Press.

I don’t need to say much about this item.
We use it at home.
We use it camping.
Quick, quiet, easy.

1b. Hario MSS-1B Mini Mill Slim Coffee Grinder.

I love this grinder.  It’s small, durable, and it breaks down into three pieces for easy packing.  It’s a no brainer.  Put the beans in and turn the handle to grind.

Yes, you have to work; it’s powered by you. But, if you’re a camper, you already know that camping is a lot of work.  It takes about 3 minutes to grind up ½ cup of beans. Two minutes if you’re a speed freak.

I am not a true coffee geek. But, there are a few geek-worthy things to note about this grinder: you can adjust the grind from coarse to fine with a turn of a nut, it has ceramic burrs, and hand cranking creates minimal frictional heat, which can affect the taste of your coffee.

Note from Amelia: A lot of Amazon reviews complain that the Hario hand grinder is “too hard to use.” For comparison purposes, it’s as difficult as mixing Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough with a wooden spoon. If that hurts you, then don’t buy this grinder.

Note from Leah about Amelia’s note: People who complain that a hand crank is “too hard to use” are wussies. Those same people probably complain that walking up three flights of stairs is harder than taking the elevator. Stop whining, and start cranking (and take the stairs).

 2. OXO wooden reamer

Holy crap, this thing is fantastic!  This could get more juice out than a mechanical juicer.  In fact, when I get home I’m going to test that theory out.

Whether you’re juicing oranges for mimosas, lemons and limes for a marinade, or grapefruits for a cocktail, this is what you want to use.

Ream that citrus!

3. Camp Chef Stove

We decided long ago that if we were going to camp, then we were going to be eating well. There would be no crappy food while camping.

This thing is powerful. Each burner is 30,000 btu’s. This is more btu’s than in most of your kitchens.

I highly recommend buying the side shelves for this stove.  Extra counter space is always welcomed when camping.

4. Coleman oven

How I have gone this long without a camp oven is beyond me.  Baking bread, and muffins, roasting vegetables, and making meatloaf while camping? Yes, please.

The oven collapses into itself.  It packs flat and weighs around 7 pounds.

Controlling the heat is what you have to keep an eye on. At home your oven goes on and off to maintain a consistent temperature.  You are the thermostat control while baking with the Coleman oven, so adjust the temperature as needed.  

I found that 350 degrees is what I need for a loaf of bread.  I would bet that the thermometer it came with isn’t the most accurate, so don’t rely too much on it. Baking is more of a feel anyhow, isn’t it?

5.  LL Bean nylon tarp 8'x10'

The most awesomest tarp ever.

What makes this tarp great is that it’s ripstop nylon, not that crinkly stuff you get at a department store. 

It took me a few times to figure out how and where to set this up, but I’ve got it down now.  The tarp goes over the hatch. It has an overhang about a foot and a half on each side, and overhangs the back by about five feet. It’s an excellent sitting area to get out of the sun, rain, or away from the neighbors view, which is always my favorite.  It’s our own little lanai.

There's so many more things, but these are my current top five favorites. 


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Backing up a trailer

Backing up a tiny trailer like ours is hard. Tiny movements will ruin you and your relationship with whoever your co-pilot may be. I can back the trailer up into any small space.  Bring it on. Once I figured out how the trailer reacts to the truck, it was a breeze. 

In Maine a Grandpa across from our campsite pulled up a chair to watch me back into a ridiculously tiny space between two trees, and up a hill. Watching someone backup is a spectator sport for the veterans.  Well, I backed it in on the first try in one complete motion.  Good night, Gramps!  He actually didn’t speak to us the entire week we were there, grumpy old fart.  But, he did have a dog name PETE, PETEY, PETER!! I think I may have mentioned that in a previous post.

Backing up a trailer seems to be a rite of passage for most couples. It usually goes like this: Mom gets out to direct Dad.  Mom proceeds to shout, “LEFT, LEFT!! NO, STOP, NOW GO RIGHT, YUP, YUP, A LITTLE MORE, A LITTLE MORE, NO, NO, NO, STOP!” Dad gets mad and a mini argument erupts. This goes on until finally you here those magical words, “STOP, THAT’S GOOD. I SAID STOP!!”  Dad needs a beer, or four.

Now, listen up Dads:  Mom just needs to stay in the truck. You can back this damn thing up - ALONE.  If not, learn.  My favorite couples are the ones who do this in complete silence. It’s an amazing thing to see, like a Zen practice. I love you people. Love you.

And Moms, you need to learn how to back these things up, too. Don’t pull the helpless woman card. You pushed a baby out of that tiny porthole?  Then you sure the hell can back up a trailer. 


PS Amelia still hasn’t backed up the trailer.

Editor’s note: Yes I have!! Kind of. And poorly. But still. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

Wow, this is place was amazing.

Coming from the hustle and bustle of St. Augustine to stillness and silence was perfection. It was surreal.  We drove thirty miles down small roads into nothingness, through a place called Yeehaw Junction.  I admit it, we were a little nervous about our destination. 

Good signs kept popping up though:  A mature Bald Eagle perched on a tree, a Red Shouldered Hawk, a Prairie Falcon, and flat, lush green prairie on all four sides dotted with cattle ranches.  Where the hell were we going?

The campground was six miles down a shell packed road. We pulled in and were immediately greeted by the campground host.  Another good sign, a host that’s actually a real host, and greets you.  The campground was small, only twenty sites and fifteen equestrian sites. Oh, the good signs just kept piling up.

Once again, we were the youngest people in the campground. These were my people. I don’t care what age you are, or your background.  If you’re birding, or staring up at the night sky, you are most definitely part of my tribe: the Geeks.

We were the loudest people in the campground. And by loud, I mean shaking a martini. Yeah, it was that quiet. The people were serious about where they were. They were out birding, or sitting quietly, or reading a book. They picked up after their dogs, which were well-trained dogs. They were in bed by eight. They were sitting by campfires talking in near whispers.  They weren’t listening to radios.

Every night we heard choruses of coyotes and bard owls.  During the day we saw alligator, egret, anhinga, heron (all kinds), red-shouldered hawks, crested caracara, ibis, palm warbler, wood stork, bobcat, harriers, meadowlark, turkeys.

This is place is so far away from anything that it really weeds out the - how shall I say?  The inconsiderate jerks?  You’re forty minutes away from any store, so you better pack in what you need. But, quite frankly, why would you want to leave?


Thursday, January 31, 2013

St. Augustine Farmer’s Markets

I’ve said it before: just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you should eat poorly.  If you’re going to camp, you should be eating well. What else is there to do?

There are two weekly Farmers Markets in St. Augustine that have a wide variety of local foods.  For us, grocery stores are for things like sugar, salt, pasta and beer.

Both of these markets have a healthy dose of touristy items like carved coconuts, shell trinkets, and shark tooth necklaces.  I must guiltily admit, I like the shark tooth necklaces.

The Old City Farmers Market is every Saturday in the Amphitheatre parking lot.  It’s a five-minute walk from the campground, two-minutes by bike.  I highly recommend the seafood truck.  Ask some seafood questions while you’re there because these people know their stuff and are a wealth of knowledge. We bought scallops, citrus, and vegetables both times we went. 

The St. Augustine Beach Farmers Market is every Wednesday at, you guessed it, St. Augustine Beach. Don’t try to park there; it will irritate you. Do yourself a favor and park behind the motel in the beach parking lot and walk across the volleyball fields. You’ll thank me.  Trying to navigate through a bunch of lemmings in an overly full lot is just not conducive to vacation fun.  Avoid it.  Better yet, avoid the parking lunacy, and ride your bicycles like we did.

There’s an excellent produce stand there.  You can’t miss it.  It’s the largest stand with the most people, for good reason: there’s great selection and prices there.

Afterward, take your dog for a walk on the beach and watch the pelicans nose-dive into the ocean.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Surfing at St. Augustine Beach

Surfing has been on my to-do list for a long, long time.  Well, I finally got to do it, and it was awesome.

We took a lesson at The Surf Station, two hours for $60 each. Money very, very well spent.  Surfing isn’t something you try to do on your own. Getting a few lesson sets you up on a solid foundation. And Alex, our instructor, was fantastic. He was patient, encouraging, thorough, and had great passion for the sport.

Paddling into the ocean gave me the first sign that I’d love it.  Sounds disappeared.  It’s just you and the ocean.  Silence is hard to come by, something I seek out regularly, and here it was thirty yards from the shore, a place I’d been hundreds of times.

Standing on a surfboard and giving in to where a wave takes you is simply exhilarating.  For a few moments, time just stops.  I’m floating, and weightless, and riding a wave. The whole time there was a part of me saying, “How the hell is this happening?!”

I don’t really know how, but I stood up on the very first wave and many waves after.  I think the reason I was so comfortable on the board was that I wanted very badly to stay the hell out of the water. I needed to stay far, far away from any giant-toothed creature that was waiting to devour me. Motivation coupled with paranoia, two of my favorite states of mind.

Amelia, on the other hand felt like she was tethered to a torpedo so she wasn’t so good at making friends with her surfboard.  But she’s the girl who wants to be “in” the ocean so it makes sense. She’s comfortable wrapping the ocean around her like a poncho and floating there.  I broke out into a mini-sweat just typing that.  She’s in the ocean, I’m on the ocean.

The waves beat the living hell out of us most of the time, but in a good way. You really have to work to get back out to take another wave which makes riding the wave all the more satisfying.  My arms ached after two hours of paddling myself after the waves.

Once thing is for sure, I’ll be doing this again.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Feather on the Teardrop

A man on a bicycle stopped by the campsite today.  He was enamored with the simplicity of the Teardrop. 

In the hour he spent visiting, he told many stories about his life: from being pierced through the neck with bamboo, to navigating a 55’ boat during a storm while the Captain retreated to the cabin to sob, to how to trap a rabbit or bird with no tools.

He came to the campground searching for someone he met recently, but found us.  He had a bag of fresh Red Cedar shavings that smelled amazing.  We didn’t have to ask a lot of questions. Put the cedar under your pillow, he told us.

“If you’re sleeping on the ground here, you want something between you and our ancestors who were killed here.”

He told stories about his daughter, his grandson, war, travels to China, and trying to become invisible. 

“Man’s world is over; it needs to be a woman’s world now.” 

He was adorned with shiny silver cuffs and rings, things he made and carved himself.  His bicycle had a rear rack that was made out of cedar branches that was perfect: light weight and held together with strips of copper and rope.

This man has been around. He referred to his bicycle as his horse.  He is a true nomad, a true American, the original American. He was a Marine who received a Purple Heart.  He went to war for a country that stole from him and every Native American.

He thought his grandson would love a Teardrop and asked about the thickness of the aluminum skin. He said he would want to etch the entire Teardrop if he had one. He pulled a small knife from his wrist cuff and as he carved a feather onto the side of our Teardrop, he told the story of each stroke. I don’t remember the exact words, but what I got out of it was: the whole, the part, the journey, the heart, the soul, the struggle.  The outline of the feather was the line representing our life and death. And when he finished he said, “You realize it is one feather you have lost, but you have many, many more feathers.” 

Now if someone came up to the Teardrop and starting carving it, we would normally read them the riot act.  But this was a moment to shut up and listen and be. 

I am tactile, and I immediately touched the feather when he has done. He smiled and said, “Thank you, that is what you should do.” He also told me to rub the red fruit of a cactus onto the etching to make it  pop out.  “Eat the cactus fruit and seeds, too,” he said and then “deposit the seeds the next day in the woods so that a new cactus grows.”  When I asked what do you call that kind of cactus, he said, “you don’t call it, let it call you.”

“The sky is about to open”, he said as a rain cloud approached.  He gave us the bag of cedar shavings, hopped on his bike and rode off.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Nalu's Tropical Takeout

Nalu’s Tropical Take Out

A couple of New York transplants started this great taco truck business, and goddamn, it’s good. Nothing is over ten bucks, portions are the perfect size, they’re charming as hell, and they make everything themselves.

Located right at the entrance of Anastasia State Park in a cute, little trailer. Awesomeness 9000.

Highly addictive, and highly delicious. Do not miss out. Check them out when you’re here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dogs and St. Augustine Beach

Dogs aren’t allowed on many beaches in Florida, but they are allowed at St. Augustine beach.  Very cool.

This is thrilling to Eesah because he loves all forms of water.  His natural instinct is to charge right into it no matter if it’s a swamp, a roaring river or the ocean.  No danger sign pops up in this little walnut-sized brain; that’s our jobs.  When we’re hiking and hear a river in the distance, we immediately leash him until we assess it. The last thing you want is your dog barreling into a class 3 rapid and going downstream. The horror.

I’m constantly reminded what a truly amazing dog we have.  He comes when he’s called, has never growled, nipped, or threatened anyone, ever (and I mean ever), can be off leash at a camp site and not wander once we show him the boundaries, hasn’t destroyed anything other than half a book when he was a pup, doesn’t beg for people food. Oh, the list goes on and on. He’s near perfect. Truly.  Of course, his behavior is a result of both us and him. We trained him well and consistently.  And, his brain is a walnut, but ours is a cantaloupe, so it’s really not that hard to train him.

Now, for the bad part. I’m sorry, here comes my judgment again:

Once again, there is dog poop everywhere. These pet owners ruin it for the rest of us once again.
There’s a reason dogs aren’t allowed in most areas of the beach. That reason is lazy ass dog owners who do not pick up after their dogs. This is a beach, where people of all ages are in bare feet, and there is dog poop all over the place. Unacceptable, especially since there are poop bags and trash cans right at the entrances to the beach.

I just don’t get it. You make a mess, you clean it up. Don’t be the bad apple for the rest of us.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A1A Cycle Works bicycle shop, St. Augustine

We went on a nice bike ride through St. Augustine Beach today.

We stopped at the Farmer’s Market which kicked ass. Lots of fresh produce there.  Then we wound up at A1A Cycle Works in the Anastasia Publix Shopping Plaza.

What a great little shop!

I’ve found that I frequently buy cycling gear when I’m on vacation. Things I don’t necessarily think about when I’m at home. Or maybe things I buy because, well, I’m on vacation.  You know how that goes, vacation mindset.

We bought some lights, a bike bell (for Amelia - I just like to yell at people), and some handlebar tape.

Frog lights rock.  They’re a great price at under $20.  This tiny led light packs a serious punch. It has two settings; a constant light and a blinking light. I prefer the constant light to the seizure-inducing blinking light.  This thing can mount to virtually anything; a seat post, handlebar, bag.  We even attach them to our kayaks when we’re night kayaking.  Handy dandy, I say.

This is one of those stores you feel right at home in.  It doesn’t matter who you are, or what your calves look like.  Although, my calves are huge.  Really, really huge.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Aluminum and salt

I need a lesson in chemistry to understand the reaction salt has on aluminum, if it has any reaction at all. I’m not sure.

There’s so much conflicting information out there.  Is it a form of rust? Is it some protective coating that’s being formed? Do I let it do its thing? Do I use acid to get rid of it?

Isn’t using acid on aluminum like sanding a wood floor? You can only do that so many times.

What to do, what to do.

Fred, what do you think?


Editor note:  Dr. Fred is a chemist, and you've probably used a thing or two that he patented. Here is his response.

Aluminum is lucky to be here. It is an extremely reactive metal and the only reason it does not quickly disappear is that it forms a protective layer of aluminum oxide when exposed to air. Normally the coating is too thin too see. Salt catalyses the formation of the layer and allows oxygen to get deeper into the aluminum and make lots of the oxide. That's the grey crud.
Acid will dissolve it but also attacks aluminum very rapidly. I would not use it. Just brush, sand, scrape the crud off. Rinse well with fresh water once you get away from the salt air. Then a light sanding or steel wooling (did I invent a word?) will restore a nice look. You could go berserk and use a buffer and polishes.


Monday, January 14, 2013

St. Augustine camping

I think I love St. Augustine. 

There are a lot of places where you feel like an outsider. That’s because you ARE an outsider.  You’re invading a kind of private club, and the locals have no qualms about letting you know that.  I grew up in a touristy area, and I gave that vibe out to many a tourist.  But, here everyone feels like the common denominator, and we’re all on the run.

It’s a mish mash of people from all over escaping something; winter, day to day life, jobs, family, to do lists, pressure, expectations. All of those things fall away when you’re on vacation, when you give in to vacation.

That’s the key isn’t it? Giving in. It takes me a week to give in.  Now I’m here and it’s good.

Cocktail time.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Piles of dog doo and abandoned cats and judgment, oh my

Hi. I judge you.  Don’t worry too much, because I judge myself in ways that would destroy most mortals.

Let’s talk about bringing your pets on vacation, shall we? I’m not even going to talk about hearing a goat bleating in the site next to us last night. Not talking about it.

Fido and Spot are awesome, aren’t they?  Yes, yes they are awesome. OWNERS are the problem.  When Fido takes a dump and you don’t pick it up, you are the problem. When Fido barks and barks and barks, you are the problem. I hear you barking, not Fido. I want to put you in a crate, not Fido.

What brought about this rant is that our site in Anastasia State Park has dog crap everywhere on the outskirts of the site.  And I mean everywhere. Lazy, lazy people do this, annnnnd I judge you.

Ok, first of all let’s face it: There are going to be times when we don’t pick up after our dogs.  It happens. No one is perfect. There is no ‘always.’ Always simply does not exist. Shit happens, literally.

But, it’s careless and disgusting that people think it’s ok to leave dog crap in public areas for someone else to step in, smell, and deal with. There is no excuse for not cleaning it up.  You shouldn’t have a dog if you can’t pick up after it.  And, please don’t have the follower mentality of, “Well, someone else left it, so I can, too.”  You are not a robot.  Think for yourself and take responsibility. 

Now let’s talk about cats. There are abandoned cats here at Anastasia. We’ve seen two so far, and it’s sad and infuriating.  Cats should not be allowed at campgrounds.  I think it’s silly and selfish of any owner to think otherwise. Your cat doesn’t want to vacation with you; it probably wants a vacation from you. Get a cat sitter.

We named this abandoned cat Curio. 

Here’s the scenario: Fluffy the Cat escapes. Then you pack up and drive home?! I hope you don’t have children.  Would you leave your child at the campground too?  I assume you would since it’s kind of the same thing.

Pets are members of our family. We all say it, but who means it?  You don’t leave your pet behind.  I don’t care what deadline you have waiting for you at home.  Responsible people don’t abandon their family members hundreds or thousands of miles from home.  Figure it out.

Wait a second. Let’s negotiate.  You really, really, really want to bring Fluffy, because Fluffy IS a totally great cat.  Best. Cat. Ever. I propose the following: the campground takes a picture of Fluffy to have on file. You pay a refundable $200 security deposit, which you get back when the campground confirms that Fluffy leaves with you. Yes, I like it.  In fact, I’m going to write it up and send it out to some campgrounds.  Or, better yet, leave your cat at home.

Hey, don’t get all defensive on me, because when you do you’re just confirming that my judgment is indeed correct.  If it pushes a button, there’s some hard truth under it.


A note from Amelia:  Even though our sunny campsite smells like dog poop roasting in an Easy Bake Oven, Anastasia State Park is pretty amazing overall. It’s peaceful and quiet and the bathrooms are clean, and there’s an absence of children here. Or at least if there are children here, we don’t hear them, so they are being pretty quiet in their crates.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Your car is on fire

I like to ride my bike as much as possible when on vacation. I ride it to go to the restroom, to recycle, to the beach, to wifi spots, to Nalu’s Taco Truck. The bike is a fantastic mode of transportation. It’s even better when you’re somewhere that’s relatively flat and destinations are within a three mile radius.  It’s triple good when there are bike lanes, which there are plenty of here.

This past summer we bought a bike trailer. My thought was twofold: it’s great for hauling things, and gosh, won’t the dog love it? No, the dog doesn’t love it. He turns into a little freak show when I put him in it.  Just as well, because I don’t really want to be that person who puts Toto in a basket and cycles around. I am much more the utility type person, so utility trailer it is.

Today we made a pilgrimage via bicycle for the basics; firewood, ice, beer. It was quite warm out, probably about 75 sticky degrees.  Hills are pretty nonexistent here except for bridges and sand dunes.  We went over a bridge, therefore a hill. Yay!

All was well until a car pulled into a parking lot in front of us. It was on fire. Yes, the car was on fire. The guy turned off the engine, jumped out looking completely panicked, and started running away from the car.  Not good.

I guess the following story describes who I am in a nutshell.

I bicycled toward his car as another car pulled in.  The driver had seen what was happening and tossed him a water bottle. He frantically crawled under his car (brave man) and doused the fire. I tossed him my water bottle. He doused some more.  I ran and grabbed Amelia’s water bottle.  She cautiously stayed 100 feet away (smart woman).  He doused some more. Amelia called the Fire Department. The guy finally got the fire to go out.  Success!

Yes, I am that person who will run towards the fire. That is me.

After the excitement we filled up my bike trailer with 20 pounds of fire wood, 20 pounds of ice and a six pack of beer. The ride back to the site was a little bit harder.

Amelia says this was my punishment for my dangerous nature.  Hrmph!