Throwing fire

April 11th, 2010

fire_juggling_front

Well, I threatened to make torches and knives once I got a cascade down with clubs. So far, I haven’t made any knives because I’m still too busy working on torches. I’ve now made 3 sets of torches. The first set was based on the green club construction and worked out pretty well. Eventually though, they started coming apart as the handle detached from the torch. Not good!

The next set I made wooden handles with the intention of swapping club/knife/torch heads out and using the same handles. There were a lot of issues with this version wanting to fall apart. On top of that, they were a pain in the butt to make, took some specialized tools and hardware to do correctly, a little painful to catch, and were just too darn heavy.

  Make Your Own Fire Poi

Yesterday, I salvaged the handle wraps from my first torch set and made some fairly light weight torches. I skipped the aluminum tubing that protected the dowel rod in the previous design and just wrapped it in tinfoil tape. The handles are a little different as they widen up considerably more than the green club handles towards the top.

fire_juggling_profile

I did finally find a source for furniture tips, but they are just too light to counterbalance the torch heads even in this ultra light model. So… I’m still using drilled out golf balls for knobs. Will I ever find a better solution?!

I also made a few rings to juggle from clear vinyl tubing. It flexes a bit too much to juggle in the heat of the day without putting a layer of tape around the rings. However, if you wait for the evening and stick a handful of glowsticks from the dollar store inside, they don’t look half bad. The biggest problem with the glow rings as props is convincing the kids to let me have enough to juggle.

They’re pretty nifty little night time toys that are incredibly fast to make for very little cost. Kids love ’em and I don’t have to keep refueling every 2-3 minutes if I want to juggle at night!

If you make a set of rings, I suggest getting a dowel rod with a diameter close to the inside diameter of your tubing and using a one inch sized piece to connect the tubing together. A couple of inches of electrical tape will secure it enough to stand up to a fair bit of abuse without coming apart.

Left For Dead In Joshua Tree NP

April 22nd, 2009

I got my taxes squared away. Unfortunately, Johnny was still doing his and seemed like he would be for hours. I wasn’t in any mood to lounge around the camper and decided it was time for some fun. So, I talked Johnny into unhooking the scooter for me and proceeded into Joshua Tree National Park. I wasn’t sure if we were going to drive in there before we left our boondocking area just outside of the park, and I wanted to see a damn Joshua Tree.

White Tank Campground - Joshua Tree NP

After working the scooter through the loose sand, I hit Cottonwood road and headed into the park. It was a pleasant ride, albeit slow. The first part was all up hill and the scooter was moving between 10 and 15mph. It was during this part of the trip that I realized I didn’t bring a jug of water. Not good. Once I made it up to the visitors center it sped up to about 30mph. From then on, it was smooth sailing. I stopped at all of the various markers and checked out some Ocotillo trees in bloom. I was lucky enough to see a rare purple aster that supposedly only grows in this area. The only wildlife I saw were a few lizards and a rabbit. No sheep for me… sigh. After a long ride in the Colorado desert, I finally made it in to the Mojave. I looked at my fuel gauge, but it hadn’t moved. I decided to go all of the way to White Tank Campground.

When I arrived there I was overcome by the scenery. The giant boulders surrounded by Joshua Trees were an awesome sight. I was so entranced I almost didn’t notice the time or my fuel gauge. I didn’t have a clock, but the sun was pretty low in the sky. The gauge read 3/4 tank. I thought, “Plenty of time and fuel, but I should head back.” I got to see a Joshua Tree! Too bad it took 30 miles.

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Life in the back of a truck (part 3)

March 14th, 2009

This is part of an ongoing series on what it’s like to live in a truck camper fulltime. You may read other articles here:

  1. Part One – The fulltime lifestyle
  2. Part Two – Why a truck camper?
  3. Part Three – Weights & Dealing with them
  4. Part Four – Boondocking resource conservation

We still haven’t got the shiny pictures from Carlsbad uploaded, so I’ll go back to an old standby and bore you all with life in the back of a truck… again!

It’s a truck, you can carry anything, right?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Weight is a big concern for most fulltimers, but I think it is a much higher priority for truck campers. At first glance, you might think a class C would be heavier than a truck camper, and you’d probably be right… at least until you add the truck. They’re on similar sized chassis, so why would you worry about weight so much more in a truck camper? If you stop and think about the construction differences, I think you’ll get a pretty good idea of what causes the problem.

Class C’s are built on a bare chassis as a stand alone unit. A truck camper is separate from the truck and still needs to maintain structural integrity. Additionally, it’s sitting on a truck that hasn’t been gutted by the manufacturer to remove unneccessary (for camping) features. A truck camper and truck combo has a fair bit of redundant construction compared to a class A/B/C RV. The camper has to hold itself together both on and off the truck, which is more than you would ask of a standalone RV.

But, it’s still way smaller than the giant 5th wheels and trailers you see people towing, right? Sure, but there’s a big difference in the way the weight is carried. Trailers put the bulk of the weight on their own axles, which is why trucks can tow so much more than they can haul. Trucks have all sorts of weight ratings including GVWR, GCWR, GAWR, and tire load ranges.

Confused yet? Ok, let’s see if we can make some sense of these ratings and which ones will matter to you.

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That Old Mississippi Mud!

February 3rd, 2009

Mississippi Mud - Stuck

Internet connectivity has been spotty, but not as spotty as the sides of the truck. About a week ago, we stopped overnight at a horse trail in the national forest just off the Natchez Trace. On pulling in, we saw a rather deep looking mud puddle and in our infinite wisdom, decided to try and keep the truck clean. A few words of advice: in Mississippi, if the road looks bad, the ground around it is awful. Fifteen feet off the road, the ground sunk in bad enough that we needed to put the truck in 4WD and lock the hubs to get out.

Now this is the point where everybody tells you that 4WD allows you to get stuck deeper in. The smart course of action, would have been to back out. However, I looked at the ruts we’d already made and looked ahead. No big deal, just a little 10″ deep ditch. Nothing the truck can’t handle, right? At this point, the ditch, with water running through it, somehow, looked better than the foot deep mud behind us. I guess everybody that’s spent much time in the mud is giggling about now. I hadn’t taken into account that a ditch, WITH WATER IN IT, is likely to be at least as gooey as the ground around it.

So, long story short, another fifteen feet of driving put us in quite a bit of nasty crud and the poor, overloaded truck refused to budge any direction but down. I got out and started digging in some hope of flattening the area out. Jenn decided it was a great time to snap a picture. Women! I can’t fault her too much though, by the time the night was over, she did her share of digging.

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They only have one bar of internet!

June 13th, 2008

As we’ve mentioned, we spent the last week in a beautiful campsite in the middle of nowhere. The only downfall to this Utopian site was the complete and utter lack of cell coverage in the area.

After working over a decade in the industry, we’re officially internet junkies. We use it for everything: Researching campsites, routes, fuel stops and sightseeing trips. Entertainment, banking, paying bills, investments. And today’s favorite topic: the life and times of the garden variety yellow jacket.

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