Humboldt-Toiyable National Forest, just west of the Hoover Wilderness, northeast of Tioga Pass, Yosemite, at about 9300 feet, in early July, 2014, around 10 pm -- DW patiently posing by the door of the trailer for my time exposure:
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Maybe save some time for Lone Pine, Calif, and the Alabama Hills, where so many westerns were filmed. There is a great film museum, and the visitor center south of town can give you locations of various famous movies. Oh, and the Sierra Nevada is right there, too, in case you are interested in doing some hiking. Summers are hot, winters are cold, spring and fall are great.
Kim, the flipped axle has not been a problem, even in 40 mph cross-winds. (More than that and I would pull over and wait, just like the truckers do.) But I would guess that the flipped axle has hurt my gas mileage in a headwind, probably dropping it from 10.5 mpg to 10. Just a guess, though -- no way to know for sure. The cost is worth it -- the ground clearance on the trailer is now the same as the truck, regardless of the angle -- deep ditches are no longer a problem. Even if there is a rock as big as my head in the middle of a dirt road, we are ok. (As big as a watermelon might be a problem, though.)
First of all, Kim, awesome screen name -- scuttling, indeed! (I have never understood that line, but I have always liked it, especially when overwhelmed with adult responsibilities.) Anyone interested in the full story might want to google "ragged claws scuttling."
Anyway, here is a wild thought -- instead of a new TC on a new truck, how about a small trailer pulled by your existing Tacoma? I, too, am getting creaky, and the comfort of a trailer is greatly appreciated. And if you outfit the trailer properly, you can still do some dirt road camping. It is not a TC -- don't get me wrong. But it is a more comfortable experience than most TCs. Check out my blog links in my signature, if you are interested in this option.
And Phil, the best part of photo tweaking is that it takes up a huge amount of time that would otherwise be wasted on work!
I should add that although I enjoy sharing our blog with all of our friends in this forum, the real purpose of the blog is to help us remember the things we have done. In the old days before computers (which I vividly remember), we had photo albums. The albums were never up to date. There was hardly any text -- just labels for the pix. There were many fewer pictures because film was so expensive. We never edited or enlarged the shots -- they were just 4x6 snapshots glued into the album.
As a result, our memories from the trips we took back in the old days (when the kids were small) are hazy and sparse. Now, with the easier-to-use (and free!) blogging software, we can keep a record of what we have done, and the pictures look a lot better than they did in the old days (because of digital cameras, and especially the digital SLR).
A trailer might be more comfortable, but there is no way a trailer can handle bad roads like a TC can. Having said that, we tow into the darndest places -- slowly and carefully. I have specially altered the trailer for rough roads -- see links below for more info on the trailer and where we have gone.
But for the real back country, I would prefer a TC. With the trailer, we have to scout for places to turn around -- a TC does not have to do that.
Now I see what you are saying, Kiwi and Newman! Yes, that is a good idea, but it just adds more complication to the design -- the goal was to have something sturdy and easy to assemble and disassemble and store. To make up for a base plate, I have those very deep holes in the top of the tripod, so that the legs can't spread out -- they are firmly in place.
Precisely because there was no base plate, I was worried about what would happen on loose ground -- on our most recent trip (the maiden voyage for the tripods), one of the tripods was on rocky soil, but the other one was on very loose dirt. I cranked the jacks down quite firmly -- the legs barely budged. They did not penetrate the soil much, because the legs are so wide.
This design, by the way, is based on an old style three legged milking stool, a very sturdy object that can support a very sturdy milkmaid! Usually, of course, the legs are permanently attached with a wedged tenon coming through the top -- I have made several pieces of furniture using this joint, and it is rock-solid. But in this instance, I wanted the legs to pull out of the hole for storage.
Bumpy, that is a very insightful comment -- it never occurred to me that different people might generate different internal force vectors inside an RV, either in terms of magnitude or direction. I would guess that younger people would create greater vehicular instability, since they move around more rapidly than we do. I just qualified for my lifetime national park pass, so I would guess that I am on the low end of the vector spectrum. Nevertheless, DW prefers a rock-solid jack, so that is why we are using these tripods.
My goodness, Jefe, I had never thought about our traditional "cocktail hour chairs photo" as a Cialis ad -- now, I will never be able to look at those chairs again without thinking of that -- yikes!! (Are chairs capable of blushing?) For those who have not seen the blog, here is the photo in question -- we take one like it on almost every trip:
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But I have to draw the line somewhere -- there is no way I am dragging those darn twin bathtubs on my camping trips, just for the sake of a photo. The chairs will have to suffice.
And if you think those forest roads can be tricky in your beefy truck camper, think how much fun they are with my little trailer, bumping along at 3.5 mph! (That is three point five, not thirty five.) Of course, we have to scout each road in advance, to make sure we are not getting in too deep. Some places are just off limits for us.
Newman, I did not understand your comment -- could you clarify? And Bumpy, I tried those "oil derrick" things (I had a couple sitting in the garage), but the base was a little too narrow, and it rocked a bit. The tripod thing distributes the load over a wider area, and the angle of the legs means that the "force vectors" from the jacks run straight down the legs, instead of coming across the top of a narrow "derrick." (As you can see, I did poorly in high school physics -- not sure if this is really an example of vectors, but how often does one get to use that word in a sentence??)
There were fish in all of the lakes and streams -- but they were very small trout! Very few people fishing. (Very few people anywhere, actually -- once we get away from the trailhead, we are often alone for the whole day.) A ranger once told me that trying to raise trout in an alpine lake is like trying to grow alfalfa on a tennis court. Not sure what that means, but it sounds challenging.
Since I flipped my axles for extra ground clearance, my stabilizers don’t reach the ground; I usually bring a stack of big wooden blocks to make up the difference. But the blocks are a little bit unsteady. So I made some collapsible tripods, and they really get the job done.
They are 16 inches high, with legs made of 1 3/8” closet pole dowels. Both ends of each dowel are rounded. The base is made up of four pieces of 8x8 3/4” plywood squares, screwed together to make a block three inches thick. Using a 1 3/8” Forstner bit and a drill press, I drilled three holes in the block, angled at 30 degrees. The legs slip into the holes, and the whole thing is easily disassembled for storage and transport.
Here is what it looks like in action:
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Here is the bottom of the base block, showing the slanted holes:
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(The red duct tape on the bottom of the block is for color-coding -- the red legs go with the red base, and so forth.)
Here is a side view of the block:
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We used it in soft soil, rocky soil, and on pavement, and it worked perfectly. Since the tripod is higher than the wooden blocks but does not wobble at all, the stabilizer jack is not overextended and seems to provide much better support and stability.
Calisdad, we were at 9400 feet -- comfortable days, cool nights. Perfect boondocking weather. That is exactly why we dragged ourselves into the high country at great effort -- to beat the heat. But one always has to take into account the "inconvenience" factor -- boondocking means that a lot of time is spent in finding a spot and setting up camp, typically on an un-level hillside. And then there is a much longer "commute" to the trailheads, as compared with the campgrounds that are usually more centrally located. The extra time and trouble are worth it to us, but there are hidden costs.
No bears, Steve. Almost no wildlife. I think that they were at lower elevations at this time of year, where the berries had already ripened. In the high country, things were just coming into bloom, so there was less food available. (I don't really know what I am talking about, but it sounds like I do.)
We just spent a week in the high country -- we camped north of Tioga Pass but did most of our hiking in the area of the pass, since the trailheads were very high (and therefore cooler than the lower elevations). Here is a link to our blog, with lots of pictures:
Trip report: Tioga Pass area
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(I know that some folks have said that they prefer trip reports that are fully set out in this forum, without the need to click on a link, but this report is just too long to duplicate -- too many photos.)
A 30 footer is real long for the twisty and narrow forest roads out west -- maybe conditions are easier when boondocking elsewhere back east?? A lightweight trailer is ok for boondocking -- just take it slow on rough roads. If you are interested, maybe check out my blog links in my signature -- we do a lot of very rough camping with a small ultralight. But this is not rock-hopping -- we travel at 5 or 10 mph on really bad roads, and we roll very slowly over big rocks and potholes.
If you really want to charge into the back country, a TC is better. We prefer a trailer because we can leave it at the campsite quickly and easily, but there are disadvantages in rough terrain.
When you call, watch out -- the person on the other end of the phone may be a volunteer or part timer -- often a person with a good attitude and not much valid info. If possible, try to get a real ranger, although they are usually busy with more serious issues.