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Archive for the ‘gear and tips’ Category

go ems

Another grey summer Saturday in the PacNorwest. Headed south to Eugene Oregon to catch the opening day for the Emerald’s, a short-season Class A team in the Northwest League and one of the farm teams for the Padres. I’ve seen fans this rabid only once before, in the stadium in Oaxaca screaming for the Guerreros.

Had to take a secluded, mosquito-y site at the nicely maintained Richardson Park, located on the end of a large resevoir near a pretty marina. Ralph paddled out in his inflatable pontoon for a spin around a nearby bass puddle.

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foldable favorite: kestrel weather station

With his Kestrel 3500 Portable Weather Station, Ralph can gauge temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, current and average wind speed, maximum wind gust, heat stress index, altitude, dewpoint, wind chill, time of day and something called “wet bulb temperature” wherever we camp.

Why does he need these readings? “It’s fun.”

When he pulls the weather gear from his fetish bag and observes my eyeroll, Ralph reminds me that I created this monster three years ago when I purchased a home weather station for him from Costco.

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foldable favorite: sea eagle boat

Ralph’s inflatable pontoon weighs about 40 pounds, fits in the trunk of his tiny Audi TT, and requires only a few minutes to inflate, affix the oars, and put in.

You can outfit it with a motor but “it’s fun to row and good exercise,” says Ralph. “Though it’s a bitch to fish out of.”

The delux package includes the boat, inflatable seat, foot pump (though a pump that runs off your vehicle cigarette lighter makes life much easier), set of oars, stow pouch and storage bag.

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foldable favorite: brunton solar panel

“We’re off the grid honey!”

Ralph’s expensive, portable, foldable solar panel charges all the small devices that we now find essential: MacBook, cell phone, weather station and satellite services like X-M radio.

Not like we ever do, but theoretically with this device the DWR can venture beyond hookup sites without a lapse in service from the electronics we need to call our lives fulfilling. It even charges the full size Airstream battery in 12 to 24 hours.

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yakima nation

You might be surprised to learn that the the area surrounding Yakima, Washington is renowned for its wine. The appellations of Yakima Valley and Red Mountain support more than 70 vineyards, bottling Cabs, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Reislings.

This I pulled straight from Wikipedia; I know strictly dick-all about wine, other than I like to drink it, early and often. We were lured north by the annual Valentine’s event, the “Red Wine and Chocolate Festival” which occurs every February right off the I-82 between Yakima and Tri-Cities. We chose to stay in Toppenish at the very nice Yakima Nation RV Park (“Stay Overnight in a Teepee!”) situated across the highway from the Worst Casino Ever.

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foldable favorite: leatherman micra

“Leatherman is cool, first of all, because they’re made in Portland down by the airport,” said Ralph when asked to discuss his mini Leatherman.

“It’s a good summer pocket tool. Uh…” he tried to explain, at a loss for words to describe why he wears it permanently attached by a lanyard on his belt and went into a panic disorder when he misplaced it for a day. “What I like is that it’s got a big scissors. And it’s smaller than a Swiss Army knife.”

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does my butt look big in this trailer suit?

Yes, it does. Ralph, who pores over industrial catalogs for relaxation, had a genius idea: one piece, insulated work coveralls to wear while camping. “Think about it,” he persuaded. “It gets a little cold or rainy, boom, we pull on the suits. The dogs need to go out in the middle of the night? Jump into the suit.” Horrified but intrigued, I agreed and they soon arrived mailorder (70% off) from Sierra Trading Post.

Initial embarrassment was overcome within ten minutes. Who cares what strangers at the KOA think about you?

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a moment of silence: the martini wagon

The DWR wasn’t the first caravan. The “Martini Wagon”, a 1958 Cardi remodeled to feature the inherent kitsch of the period, was towed hard up and down the western states to Yosemite and back for nearly ten years. It sadly developed a terminal leak in the ceiling in 2006 and had to be sold on eBay. (It retired to a good home; the wacky new owners were planning to use it as a guest house/party pad out in back of their property in Renton.)

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