Archive for January, 2010

Rocking and rolling in Arizona

January 22nd, 2010

Whew! The weather has been pretty nutty around here lately. We spent a couple of days in Quartzsite putting up fliers for freecampsites.net and got rained on every evening. One mid-day shower caught us while out on the scooter. Fun!

Quartzsite is just not our scene. Two days would have been more than enough even if the weather had been great.  It was pretty crazy to pull into the BLM area the first night and see rigs lined up awning to awning just like a commercial campground. We had to go about a quarter mile deep into the area before we found a spot where we could get a mere hundred feet from a couple of neighbors. The next morning, we found out why the area was so ‘sparsely’ populated as the kids in the converted school bus had breakfast and blasted the MTV version of the Grateful Dead over the world’s crappiest PA system. Ah, well… at least it wasn’t polka.

This morning, we got up ‘early’ to try and make it back to Slab City by dark. Apparently, I was still on California time and not really adhering to Jenn’s schedule. Still, we got out at a reasonable time and then sat in mid-morning traffic at Quartzsite while the rain started splattering. The wind had not stopped in at least 24 hours.

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Coding on the road

January 19th, 2010

After two years, I’ve finally started finding the joy of programming again. While in Fernley, NV, I wrote a quick patch to add a new playstyle to the crawl roguelike. Several days ago, I found and patched a bug in bcrypt, which I wrote nearly eight years ago and have ignored ever since. Best of all, I’ve started writing my own video game. It’s a roguelike, so don’t expect fancy graphics and a constant adrenaline rush. In fact, don’t expect anything for a long time as it’s barely more than a snazzy interface at the moment.

Not to be outdone, Jenn has been working on freecampsites.net quite a bit. I’ve tried to help some, but my PHP is very rusty and the codebase is quite large. I think she may have gotten a small taste of my frustration last night. Since she has expressed at least a passing interest in my game, I talked her through adding a couple of features to the codebase while we were driving to Quartzsite!

I was impressed. As a C neophyte, she was still able to extend my existing functions as well as find and patch a bug while listening to my disconnected ramblings of where the problem was most likely to be. All of that, and my program still compiles and runs this morning! I’m only sorry that I couldn’t talk her into finding a bug in the display code I spent a few hours trying to find yesterday. But, that code is probably overly complex and due for some cleanup. Hell, I get annoyed looking at it and I wrote it within the last week!

Time Enough At Slab City

January 13th, 2010

Before we hit the road, I had dreams of building and using a solar oven. It’s one of the projects that Johnny was referring to in the last post.  Up until now, it never seemed like the right time to make one. It was either too cold, too much shade, or we we weren’t staying in the area long enough for it to be worth the effort. Now that we are in the desert where it’s 75-80F degrees and always sunny, I am nearly out of excuses. We have also decided to stay for a while, so now I am completely out of excuses. However, being the ever resourceful person that I am, I found a new one…. Continue Reading »

Scavenging the Slabs

January 8th, 2010

It’s amazing the difference the mountains make. We were literally driving through rain all day until we finally crossed through the mountains into the California desert. Minutes later, it was dry and I was considering whether or not to turn on the air conditioner. Once again, we arrived at Slab City in the dark and were unable to find the primo campsite. So, we just settled for the same site we had last year, pulled in (checking for nails) and staked our claim.

Unlike last year, we had two bikes and didn’t need to get the scooter out right away. At least, we had two bikes for a couple of hours until Jenn’s pedal came off because it had been put on the wrong side. Back to one bike and two riders, it was time to get the scooter running again.

Just like last year, it had another fuel leak. This time, however, nearly the entire fuel line was dry rotted and I wasn’t able to clip enough from somewhere else to fix the problem. But, like Leonard Knight says, ‘If you go eight miles out in the desert, you can find anything you need.’

By way of introducing myself to our neighbors, I wandered over, dodging a vicious puppy, and said, ‘Hey, you know where I can find a piece of fuel line?’ Now, if you’ve ever been looking for some random part in the middle of nowhere, you realize I didn’t really expect anything from this except, just maybe, directions to the nearest auto parts store. Instead, I got directions to the Slab City mechanic.

Sure enough, when I found him, he was able to scrounge up a bit of vacuum line that was the right size to replace the fuel line on our moped. Sure, it probably won’t last too long, but neither did the cheap rubber on our Chinese moped. The vacuum line, had already survived a car fire, which is more than I can say for the original fuel line.

We have a few other scavenger hunt projects going on. I hope they all work out half as well as the moped. But either way, it’s an interesting way to meet folks when you get tired of scrounging around the desert and decide to ask directions.