Monthly Archives: March 2006

Rio Grande!

The Rio Grande has been another spectacular view along my journey. I didn’t realize I would be crossing it. Last night my planned campsite was not-accessible due to a recent snowfall. I ended up in Taos, NM for the night. This morning I did some needed maintenance on the VW. The fuel filter, air cleaner, and alternator belt all needed replacement, and I did that myself. I had a shop change the oil since I don’t have a pan with me on the trip, and I’m on vacation and didn’t really want to do it! Here’s a picture of the Rio Grande:

Rio Grande Gorge, Near Toas, NM

Posted in B's Blog

Capulin Volcano

Last night I made it to the Cimarron National Grasslands, where I camped out in a remote piece of desert. It was soooo windy yesterday driving that I could barely keep the VW going. My mileage sucked too. Today I left camp around 9:30 am, and on my way to the Sante Fe National Forest I decided to detour to the Capulin Volcano National Monument.

I also purchased a yearly National Park Pass today, which is good for entry fees at any NPS run site. Hopefully it will save me money in my journey. As you can see from the first picture, I have been traveling along the Sante Fe Trail most of the was through Kansas and Oklahoma. I’ve had no Verizon internet coverage for a few days, so posts may come slowly. I’m parked outside a Best Western right now, moocing free Wi-Fi. Well, time to head out. I’m hoping to make my next campsite in the Sante Fe National Forest before dark tonight so I can grill a burger. Thanks to everyone for all the birthday wishes.

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Almost Vacation!

A view west towards Colorado from Konza Praire Biological Research Station

It was really amazing when I got past Topeka, KS to see the landscape change so quickly and dramatically. It went from trees and green and urban to vast, uninhabited brown. It looks a lot like Colorado here. It was also amazing to see the sign “Denver – 500 miles.” I didn’t really think about how close I was. I’m thinking now that I’ll have to go through CO on my way south; maybe I’ll take I-25? South into Sante Fe.

Today is my last work day for Mactec. I’ll be finishing site KNZ184, and will head directly to FedEx to shed this calibration kit. It’s going to feel like a mansion in my van w/o that. The kit consists of 7 large pelican cases that consume my entire trunk area (and ~400lbs of weight capacity). I’m working on a map to post here that shows my route travelled so far, and my proposed route for the remainder of the trip. Stay tuned!

Posted in B's Blog

Allow yourself to be distracted

It’s amazing how hard it is for me to get distracted from some things, and so easy from others. I’m a man of lists and schedules (thanks Mom!), and when travelling around I find it impossible to stray down an unnamed road or to stop too long in any one place. Hopefully I can work on changing that somewhat once I’m finished with this work. I’m missing too many things along the way. Right now though, it’s so #$%! cold that all I want to do is finish my work as quickly as possible, and head south. I hope it is warm in Alaska by May 1st!

BTW, today I’m working in Stockton, IL. I’ll be heading up to Perkinstown, WI tomorrow if all goes well. New tires are on their way from The Tirerack, which I would recommed to anyone needing specialty tires. Their shipping is quick and cheap, and their prices seem lower than most.

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It seems that biofuels are a really big thing up here in Illinois. You can actually purchase biodiesel at Flying J. Lots of the farm fields have signs promoting ethanol fuel. What is driving all of this? I guess that everyone wants to feel like they’re doing something good for the environment. Really, I think “big business” and government are behind it. All these fuels sound great on the surface, but none of them are actually viable. Most are a net loss of energy. See this study by Cornell University. In reality, using these fuels puts us further behind. What’s the answer? Who knows. Starting with conservation would make the biggest dent. But, here I am travelling around the country guzzling up fuel myself.

I have been enjoying listening to talk radio on my XM while I cruise the countryside. It’s funny to here people that are so against the war in Iraq saying that they are also against drilling for oil in AK, wind farms off Nantucket, etc. etc. We can’t have it all. If you want energy, you better be ready to fight for it in distant lands, or find it locally. I am against the war because it has been lie after lie. Couldn’t the administration just come out and say, hey, we American’s love oil, and to stay on top, we’ll go out and get it?

Posted in B's Blog

What can go wrong…

Well, at least nothing really bad has happened yet. Yesterday when I stopped and got out of the van, I noticed a nail sticking out of the sidewall on one of my new tires. I plugged it, but it doesn’t look so safe having a plug in the sidewall. Hopefully I can find a dealer somewhere along the way for these tires (had to order them from the net). Also, I’ve noticed oil in my cooland expansion tank. There is no coolant in the engine oil, so I’m not sure where the contamination is occuring yet.

I stayed at a rest stop along I-70 in Ohio last night, near the town of Sonora. It was cold! I’m not sure how cold, but my little heater barely kept up. If it’s this cold again tonight, I’ll sleep with the top down. The picture below was taken in Arendtsville, PA yesterday. The site there is high up in the apple orchards overlooking town.

pups and pop

Posted in B's Blog

Blackwater Wildlife Refuge

Cooking steak for dinner

Tonight we are camping at the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, MD. I’m parked behind the CASTnet site BWR139, and I’m mooching electricity to run my electric heater. Tonight I grilled a sirloin, and also had salad and rice pilaf. Yummy Yummy. Oscar and Anna had the usual lamb meal and rice kibble.

Last night I stayed with Joline and Danny in Va Beach. Tasha and Christopher were also at home with their significant others. We had a nice spaghetti dinner, and then had a huge breakfast this morning. Thanks for all the hospitality!!

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Sleeping Pups

Well, the pups are finally figuring out how to comfortably sleep two in the front seat. Most of the time, there is one in the front seat and one on the couch in back. I’ll see if I can manage to take 25 pictures a day. It might prove interesting!

Oscar & Anna sleeping in the passenger seat!

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On the road again…

Well, Yesterday was my first official day on the road. I spent most of the day in Tallahassee taking care of a few things, and then headed up to Alabama. I spent a noisy night at a rest stop near Grady, AL along US 231. This morning was really nice, fixing breakfast and coffee in the Vanagon before starting off to Crossville, AL. Tonight I’m camped in GA north of Atlanta along I-85. So far the van is running great, and getting 30+ mpg! I’ll try to take some pictures soon to post up here. I haven’t really run into anything yet that was worthy of pulling over and snapping photos. Stay tuned.

Posted in B's Blog