Monday, February 17, 2014

Summer 2014!! It is gonna be a HOT Summer!!

Well all my paperwork is submitted and accepted for a summer job on Lake Powell...I am excited about spending the summer in the hot desert on a beautiful Lake, always been one of my favorite spots and have wanted to spend more time there, so it looks like I am scheduled to be there about May 15th and leave around the end of September!

I decided a change of scenery was in order for this year...My favorite State to explore is Utah and Montana, so I applied for positions in both of those locations and this opportunity was the first to confirm, besides my bucket list needs some shortening as the years are passing by quickly...nearly 10 years in Alaska and I am aching for some warmer weather and looking at bikinis instead of old fisherman in rubber rain gear!! Plus I will have the opportunity to explore more of Southern Utah!

As with any seasonal job, I will have a number of responsibilities..primarily I will be working the rental houseboat docks and instructing people on their safe operation and moving the boats from the marina to their first location, then return to the marina by small boat or get picked up by other marina staff. I will also spend a fair amount of time on the premium boat which pretty much gets handled by the staff, I am sure I will find out more details when I get there, but I am looking forward to spending some time on this boat - see the video below!

Enjoy a quick look at the boat and some of the scenery I will be exploring! If you really want to enjoy the video hit the full screen squares in the lower right corner of he video screen the ESC to get back here!

I have not finalized my travel plans for leaving Southern California...I have confirmed here that I will be leaving the end of March and plan to explore and travel my way back to Salt Lake City for my annual USCG Doctors appointment then leave time for a leisurely trip from Salt Lake to the job at Lake Powell, there are some areas along the way I want to spend some time in and explore...

Stay tuned for final travel plans and further adventures!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blog Update - Making the truck Mine!

Well, I have had the new truck a little over a week now and it is starting to come together and I am making it mine. I added the bed cover last week and this week a couple other items came in that do more to personalize my truck.

Yesterday my window shades arrived and I installed them, also my stickers arrived and my new GPS Mounts. BTW - If you are having problems with your GPS suction cup mount not holding on to the glass as well as it should, then I can highly recommend replacing the original suction cup mount with one from this company...they make holders for virtually every GPS and the suction cup is much larger and stronger and is actuated by a screw down system that is virtually impossible to break loose!

The company name is: Ram Mounts and their website is HERE

They are a little pricey but very well built and 10 times stronger than any original.

So this first photo is for Ms. Patricia Millhoff...I had a similar sticker on the old truck and she bitched about it for two weeks before she arrived for vacation in the fall of 2012 when we toured Utah...said she didn't want one on her side of the truck, well tough, it was there anyway and now there are two new ones on this truck!

I also got mirror extensions which will be nice when towing!

The window deflectors are something I wanted for the old truck and never got...

Here is the GPS Mount for my handheld!

And the one for my standard car GPS!

I have enough electronics in the truck to hopefully never get lost. I use the handheld as a trip log, since I can download to my computer the route I traveled and better calculate my distance traveled and mileage. And of course it is a back-up in case the other one gets lost!

Several people have asked about the fact it is a stick shift and so far I love it, except with all the power without the trailer it is like driving an old muscle car, which is kind of fun, but I have to be careful, it is fast!

Friday I have a photo trip planned up a nearby canyon in the Park which is supposed to be a great photo spot, we shall see!

Stay Tuned!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Blog Update - King of the Hammers Race - Feb 7, 2014

In my travels I try to experience the local color and attend local events, yesterday was one of those days. A friend from the RV park and I took a drive to Johnson Valley about an hour away from 29 Palms, to see one of the toughest off-road Desert Races in the country.

When I say tough, I mean tough - it is a 3 lap race that covers a total of 165 miles. Lap 1 is the easiest lap with a lot of flat land desert, but on lap 2 it includes some serious rock climbing and that repeats on Lap 3 with the addition of a couple even harder spots. The drivers are required to finish within 14 hours, the winner this year took a little over 8 hours to complete the race...any repairs must be done on the course or in the designated pits and on the course must be done by the driver and his co-driver - pit crews are not allowed to follow the cars and make any repairs.

With the difficult sections named, Wrecking Ball, Chocolate Thunder, Clawhammer, Jackhammer you can imagine how hard this race is to even finish, let alone win...

I chose to try and photograph some of the race from an area near Chocolate Mountain called Chocolate Thunder it is a 12 mile section of the course and I was on the first uphill section which is one of the more difficult sections. It is affectionately known as Wrecking Ball! Just getting to this area was an ordeal with about a 5 mile cross desert drive and then from the parking area about a 1.5 mile walk in soft sand uphill then perched on the side of a rock canyon with a zillion other people, it was difficult to get to a spot with a perfect clear view, but I managed to get to a spot where I could shoot some of the action!

It s amazing these vehicles need to be built to run in excess of 100 MPH on the open desert and then be able to rock climb in the mountain I watched the various drivers pick their line up the rocks it was interesting how some made it look so easy while others struggled in the same area. Part vehicle and part driver skill.

It was a great day - On with some pictures of the action!

The wind was terrible on the drive from the start to where we watched...that tent is about to blow away!

Visibility on the drive over...

Some of the action!

Patriotic Bunch!

The view back towards "Hammer Town" and the start finish!

The "TOP" of Chocolate Thunder above where I was watching from!

Lots of sand and dirt flying!

Some "CLOSE" Competition!

Stuck with a broken drive shaft!

Winch it out!

Replace the drive shaft right there!

Back in Hammer Town near the start finish watching the big screen!

Near the finish line...

All in all a great day - the winner was #67 - Loren Healy!

Stay tuned more action from the Southern California Desert as I find it!!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Blog Update - took a break yesterday and tok a few pictures!

My eyes were going crosseyed from staring at the computer working on my High School website and scanning the year I decided a little photo road trip into Joshua Tree National Park was in order. I saw a wonderful print in a restaurant of a Cholla Cactus - but it was unique in that is was a carcass of the plant and the intricate design of the structure behind the cactus, so my goal was to find one and photograph it in black and white.

First a little update on the truck - so far I am very pleased with the new truck - it is like driving a hot rod though, so have to be careful...that big motor and the standard transmission brings back memories of my to drive. So far not taking it easy at all I am averaging over 12 MPG and figure if I took it easy could easily get 14 MPG, so I suspect with the trailer I will be at 11 to 12 which will be fine.

I ordered a tonneau cover for the truck and it arrived day before yesterday and I installed it before my photo trip yesterday. I was really impressed with how easy it was to install and how much better this one is from my last one. I ordered a Bestop EZ Fold cover which is way better than the one I had before with all the snaps and needing help to roll the thing up when I was towing, this one is on a metal frame that clamps to the bed and it folds in three sections, so when towing the forward part of the bed where my generator sits will still be covered...I really like it and installation took about 10 minutes once I figured out how the clamps worked to get the tight enough...simple to fold up either way only takes about 2 minutes.

Here it is...

And with it folded up!

Real simple to un-clamp the rear and fold...

OK - Here we go on the photo adventure to Joshua Tree!

What I went to shoot first!

And while waiting for the sunset which never really happened with the color I was hoping for!

And in black and white!

Stay tuned for more photo adventures I need to get some area shots for display in some of the cottages here at the RV I need to shoot more!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest and Alaska!