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Old 03-03-2010, 06:39 AM   #1
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T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

It is nine days to March 13th’s 0600 predawn launch for the annual desert wildflower trip, a three thousand mile round trip journey to Anza Borrego State Park, Death Valley National Park and various points in between. This will be Desert Wildflower Trip Number Six since 2005, and the fourth in the sportsmobile.

The launch vehicle is still in the shop after successfully having the Extreme Air Magnum compressor added to the under carriage on the driver’s side:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=4193&start=0

One week ago, the dreaded P0299 code appeared on the ScanGauge during a test run, signaling a turbo under boost condition. The ground crew at the local Ford dealer has found the turbo to be exceptionally hard to remove for examination, with the bolts corroded to the mounting plate. Still, enough time has been built into the countdown schedule so far to accommodate this task being handled in the next several days, and launch preparations are proceeding accordingly.

It has been an exceptionally miserable winter, with clouds, freezing fog and air inversions hanging over the launching site for months at a time, much more like Seattle than the dry east side of the Northern Rockies. The miserable events of the winter include (but are not limited to): continuous snow cover from the first of December to the first of March, continuous cold weather with temperatures below freezing (and often below zero) for ten weeks, partial asphyxiation with styrene and sewer gas at work as fumes filled our 120-year-old building from a nearby sewer improvement project, partial asphyxiation with smoke inhalation from an electrical fire in the basement of the 120-year-old building and partial asphyxiation with fumes from solvents used to clean the damage from the sewer gas and electrical fire in the 120-year-old building. And also a second knee replacement surgery for the large black labradog, hopefully restoring him to the full ability of hopping in and out of the sportsmobile for the upcoming camping season.

Did I mention it has been a miserable winter?

The goal for this year is to travel from near the Mexican border to the Arctic Ocean starting with this March desert trip and taking a month off in mid-summer to drive to the Yukon and explore the wild lands surrounding the Dempster Highway.

But first several stubborn bolts need to be removed and a recalcitrant turbo needs to be replaced. Launch day can’t come soon enough!

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Old 03-03-2010, 07:15 AM   #2
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Wow Im super Jealous.I could have never spelled "asphyxiation"!

Just kidding sounds like a great trip. Been cold here too but it think you guys had it worse. Im ready for spring.

I hope the SMB get fixed in a timely manner.


Ron
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:11 AM   #3
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Very cool Ed
Safe travels
remember us po folk so post some pics

best to you
bw
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:12 AM   #4
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

After six days in the shop, the launch vehicle is back on the pad in the front yard. The new Extreme Air magnum compressor works well and the faulty turbo has had it’s central housing replaced and the vanes cleaned. The Ford techs reported “moderate” coking and corrosion in the turbo and recommended using a diesel fuel additive, something I already do, adding an Amsoil diesel concentrate in every other fill up. The Sporty is never used for driving short distances and never left idling in cold weather. It’s the first turbo problem in 30,000 miles so I should be grateful that I haven’t had more of them.

By sheer luck, the Sporty was inside the shop at Ford across town while two cars full of deranged teenagers spray painted vehicles up and down the streets near our house last Tuesday night, causing several thousand dollars worth of damages. A couple times a year local kids go beserk shooting out car windows and trashing vehicles, showing that small towns in Big Sky Country aren’t immune to big city problems.

This weekend will be filled with pre launch tasks of checking and restocking camping gear in the Sporty, testing the air compressor and electrical systems, and going on a practice run up Interstate 15 to the Missouri River, just to make sure everything still works.

Meanwhile the desert wildflower bloom has started in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, and promises to be a good to spectacular year. Cool and rainy weather in the deserts has slowed plant growth, but will prolong the bloom is places such as Death Valley National Park.

DesertUSA posts good summaries of the wildflower bloom across the Southwest.

http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/wildupdates.html

Carol Leigh’s wildflower hotline blog keeps track of wildflowers across southern and central California.

http://www.calphoto.com/wflower.htm

Tom Chester’s amazingly detailed blog describes the hundreds of plants blooming each week in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

http://tchester.org/bd/blooms/2010.html

The National Park Service posts occasional reports on the blooms in Joshua Tree National Park.

http://www.nps.gov/jotr/planyourvisit/blooms.htm


Death Valley National Park reports that the constant rain storms have caused the reappearance of Lake Manley, the descendant of the Pleistocene pool that used to fill the valley thousands of years ago.

http://www.nps.gov/deva/naturescience/w ... e-2010.htm

It will be a great trip if I can only survive another week of work and launch preparations!

Here’s a pic of the Big Bloom in DVNP in 2005:



And dawn on the Owl Creek Mountains in southern Death Valley on the same trip:

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Old 03-07-2010, 09:14 AM   #5
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

T Minus Five Days and counting.

The Sporty did fine yesterday on a sixty mile test run up to the Missouri River and back on I-15. The newly rebuilt turbo hummed along, the Extreme Air Magnum compressor chugged loudly when tested at the fishing access site, and the taking Herb's advice, the refrigerator chilled the beer nicely.

It is hard getting ready for a major trip when the vehicle has not been used for an overnight camp out in nearly four months. You never know what won't work (like the dang turbo) or what gear you will forget to reload after the winter's downtime.

Thanks again to all that offered advice on the air compressor installation. The local Ford Dealer, Helena Motors, did an excellent job with the wiring, bracket fabrication and bolting. When told about it, Peter at Sportsmobile West was impressed that a Ford dealer would undertake such an installation. But our local dealer handles a lot of E-350 vans (including four Sportys) diesels, and 4WD vehicles, so they know their stuff and their clients.

Launch time has been moved up to 5PM MST on Friday, in an attempt to cut off a few hundred miles from Saturday's big mileage day (750 miles) down I-15 to Cedar City Utah. Hopefully, there won't be any big March snowstorms between now and then.

I can't wait to get the hell out of Dodge!
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:45 AM   #6
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Looks to be an excellent trip Ed. Are you going to keep us posted from the road or wait 'till you get back?

Safe and happy travels buddy.

steve
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Old 03-07-2010, 10:01 AM   #7
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Ed-

Your timing should be perfect. Looks like next week will be the peak bloom. We are getting hit with some nice rains right now that should set up nicely. We are going out there today for a picnic in the SMB. Here is the latest report in case you haven't seen it:

http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/638/files ... 202010.pdf

We might head out next weekend, too.

Best-
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:05 AM   #8
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Webmac - thanks for the link. I am in the "print out all the current stuff from the 'net" phase of final planning, and will include that wildflower note.

Cellular Steve - We have a new small notebook 'puter on the way. I hope it arrives before Friday. We should be able to post trip reports from a few places on the trip schedule, but I haven't had time to upgrade my Trac phone to a Verizon traveling broadband account for better access. That's planned for the Alaska-Yukon trip this summer.

It's great to have the excuse of owning a Sportsmobile to plan big vacations! Can't let that expensive hunk of metal rust in the driveway, I tell my friends at work.
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:03 AM   #9
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Re: T –Minus Nine Days and Counting

Mission control has been transferred to this thread:

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=4453
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Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
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