Mystery Parts

Davis Mountains

Enjoyed a small vacation in the Davis Mountains, located in Southwest Texas. Some good hiking opportunities abound and within short driving distance to the McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis, Davis Mountain State Park, and about an hour from Balmorhea State Park (should it happen to be open on any given day). As most areas in Southwest Texas at this time of year the temperature range is conducive to what I call descent camping weather. The overnight lows dipped down into the 20s and the highs reached into the low 70s. We set that thermostat on 62 degrees at night while enjoying an overly warm sherpa blanket. Next time we might just have to bump that down to 60 degrees.

Sometimes I swear the Lance builders hide stray parts that will eventually work lose and appear out of nowhere on your floor after putting your portable home through a three-hour 8.0 earthquake.

Mystery Parts

The black tab… who knows? Showed up a couple years ago. I’ve searched high and low. Seems to be of the same material as the fridge but I can’t figure out where it could be from.

The pin is a new development. Occurred on the last FTX. Identical to the hinges of the toilet seat lid. But both of those are accounted for. Perhaps it belongs somewhere inside the foot pedal assembly of the toilet, because I broke that on on our very last day, thank the shit gods that be that it occurred on our last day. My foot accidentally slipped off the pedal, causing it to slam shut followed by the clinking of a small piece of plastic dropping to the floor. Now when I push the foot pedal down to flush, it just turns the water in the bowl on but does not open the flapper.

I’ve already bought the replacement Thetford Style II high profile (with sprayer) so that will be my next big project. Wish I could be happy with a plastic bowl – I could’ve saved myself $50 or so. Replacement is easy enough. 2 bolts and a screw on waterline.

The Mystery parts? Guess I’ll throw them into a compartment box for safe keeping just in case I figure out where they really went.

Claatu, Verata, Nicto

A solemn phrase, only to be uttered just prior to removing the Necronomicon in order to avert the release of the Army of Darkness. And you better know what you’re saying. No coughing while saying any syllable because you’ve forgotten the magic words. Apparently the Army of Darkness can sense whether you’re saying “Nicto” or “Neck tie.” “Basically said it,” doesn’t count.

And if you’re a Priest uttering magic incantations for baptism, the rules still apply. Or so two decades’ worth of parishioners learned recently – including the Dioceses of Phoenix when they realized the shepherd had been baptizing his flock in the first person plural “we,” as opposed to the singular vernacular, “I,” when incanting “I baptize you in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Their baptisms have been ruled invalid.

Claatu… Veratu…. *cough* Neck tie

Living With Your Ex AND Mother

Imagine living out the pandemic with your mother and your ex? I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of fucked up world that could be. Through a series of unfortunate events, that’s exactly what happened to this guy. He made it work and found time to make jokes about it. An entertaining read to be sure and some funny pics to boot. Read the full story here.

My Rambling on About iPhone 13 mini

Just picked up a new iPhone. The 13 mini. I haven’t truly had a phonegasm since the iPhone 4s. I still have it. Look at it up there, looking all… small. And distinguished. It is the phone by which all others above been and will be judged. At least in this consumer’s eye. Yes, the screen real estate is minimal, but with screens reaching end to end with the beloved notch up there, well… it could still be the same physical size as the 4S but with an improved screen size.

From the 4s I went to the 6 Plus. “The pluth means better!” In my best Daffy Duck voice. Remember the old Mr. Goodwrench commercials? No? Oh well. Holy cow! That was an iPad mini. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I ended up with an iPad mini. But for a phone? No Thanks. I thought I wanted the bigger screen. I was wrong. I keep my phone in my left front pocket. Not with that mufucka I didn’t. Ended up trading that one with my wife who ordered the iPhone 6 just so I could trade with her. That was better, but still no 4s.

The iPhone 6 held me over until the iPhone X. Still wasn’t happy with it and actually downgraded to the iPhone SE 2020, which I guess is basically the iPhone 7 in shape and size. Much better, but again, still no 4s. When I wanted to buy a second phone for telework and wanted to sink as little coin as possible into it while still being an iPhone, I went with the iPhone 7 with 32 GB. When the AT&T rep asked me which color I wanted, rose gold or some other color I can’t recall, I said, “Shit, I’m paying a dollar for this? That bitch better be gold!” Plus it would really help me differentiate with my personal iPhone. I would never choose rose gold for my personal phone. I even keep it in a leather case, and I don’t do phone cases.

What I really hated about all the others was the protrusion of the camera lens. For fucks sake, WHY! I’m that guy who has never used a phone case for my personal phone. I hate to cover the natural beauty of the phone. I like to have my phone laying down on my desk or table on it’s back, and it really annoys the Obsessive Compulsive in me that it doesn’t lie down flat.

I just traded in my SE for this new iPhone 13 mini. I love the form factor. The hard clean edges with rounded corners. Glass on both sides. A seemingly tough metal band around the edge. I wish it was even more mini. I wish it was the size of my 4s. I had high hopes of it’s miniature-ness until I saw it in person. But it’ll do. I’ve got no choice but to deal with the camera lens these days. I’ve learned to place it face down on my table or desk.

Big Bend Ranch State Park – Interior

Vista Del Bofecillos – Big Bend Ranch State Park

Tips for Big Bend Ranch State Park (BBRST).

Things to keep in mind as reference: hauling a Lance 1995 on my Ram Laramie 4X4.

Since 2015 we have stayed at BBRST every December. Great camping weather. I would not attempt to camp there in the late spring/summer/early fall. Unless you like sweating in 130 degree temps. Up until this year we have always boondocked (there are no hookups) around the outer edge along RM 170. You’ve got the Upper Madera, Lower Madera, Grassy Banks (so far, all legitimate campsites), and La Cuesta (basically a fenced off paved parking lot giving you 5 camping spaces). We have always stayed at either the Upper or Lower Madera. Both are right on the banks of the Rio Grande. You will have kayakers coming through daily to load/off load onto the river. Check it out on google maps to get an idea of the sites and whether or not your camper will fit.

Reservations can be made for them but not on specific sites. Say there are 14 sites in Lower Madera, you have one of them. Hopefully you get the site you want. Same with the others. You will be close to the Barton Warnock Visitor Center which is in the small tourist town of Lajitas. If you forget something, no problem – their general store has you covered for everything including gas. There is also a dump station and potable water at that Visitor Center. If you are scared of 12% grade, you want to get there from Terlingua, not from Presidio. Look on google maps if you don’t know what I mean. If grades don’t scare you, Presidio would be shorter (unless you are coming from Big Bend National Park side) and more scenic. There is plenty to do around the outskirts of the park that are part of the park. These outlying campgrounds do have vaulted toilets and trash pick-up. 

The interior of BBRST is a whole different scenario. The park recommends AGAINST taking in travel trailers due to the condition of the roads. There is also kind of a bottleneck cattleguard that prevents wider vehicles from passage. We passed with a few inches to spare on each side. The main park road is about 27 miles of the bumpiest unkept road you will ever travel. The kind that if you do, say, 45MPH the rattling of your vehicle will not be as much. But if you do 15-20MPH… you will be thrown around your vehicle. God knows what the inside of your trailer is doing. So you do about 5-10MPH for most of it while you’re trailer is attached and still get jostled. And this is the best road in the park. All campsites lead off this road, and those roads could be worse. Cactus, catclaw, ocotillo will be on both sides, reaching for your vehicle and trailer. Large jagged rocks will be sticking up on one side while a 1 foot pot hole will be strategically placed on the other. Try to get smart and go to the right of the jagged rocks and avoid the pot hole, you’ve just ran over a cactus. Choose your poison. If you end up getting a needle in your trailer tire DO NOT PULL IT OUT. That needle is what’s now keeping the air in your tire. There are no facilities on the interior so be sure to bring all the water you need or the nearest source of water will be the town of Presidio. That means another agonizing drive down that godless road. Bottom line, even though my campsite was only 16 miles from Presidio, it took us 1.5 hours to get there. Your hands are clenched around your steering wheel, your gut is tensed. All you can think about is how your trailer is holding up to this apocalyptic earthquake you are putting it through. The park recommends bringing a full size spare (we did) for this very reason – and we popped a tire on the truck. Put the spare on, went into Presidio, and there is a nice Hercules Tire shop there that patched it up for $20 (and a nice $15 tip to the kid who did the work and even put the spare back up underneath). Some of their roads they recommend 2 spare tires. I avoid them roads. Just sayin.

This was the first time we camped in the interior of the park. My suggestion is that if you are coming here, you want to travel the main park road early in the day or morning. I would not want to travel to my final destination in the dark. Plenty of places to pull off on RM170 or even a couple nice RV parks in town. We stayed at one of them but they didn’t take our money. She started thinking out loud about what site we could use. Not that site… it has no sewer. Not this one… it has no water. Not that one either…. Power is messed up. I told her I don’t need any hookups. Just a place to park. She then told me to just pick out any spot and there would be no charge. Merry Christmas to me!

Next day we started into the park. Stayed at Vista Del Bofecillos. One of the first ones you can get to from the main park road on the right. It is quite steep to get there in 2 places especially with some really sharp protruding rocks to attempt to avoid with some soft gravel to make things more adventurous. Plus… Cactus and ocotillo are on both sides. I’d say high clearance 4 wheel drive would be a must hauling a trailer. Got some nice character scratches along the way on both the truck and the Lance. Not enough to take the decals off. To be honest, had I known how steep it was, I would not have reserved that site. But I was committed at this point. I put the truck in 4 Low and extended the Laramie another 2 inches. 

There is another spot about .3 miles down the main park road (from our turn off) on the left called Rancho Viejo. My 1995 would fit there with no scratches involved. You won’t have the wonderful view from the plateau that Vista Del Bofecillos provides but still is a great site. 

Weather was awesome as it customarily is this time of year. Lows in the 30/40s highs in the 60/70s. Plenty of sunshine. We’ve got 300 watts of solar on a 250ah (group size B8) battery. Kept the furnace at 65 at night, turned off during the day. Never ran out of juice. Went through less than 2 propane tanks (brought an extra two just in case). Running the 6 gallon water heater in the morning and at night. Fridge on propane (number 3 on the cold scale) the whole time. 4 showers between the two of us. Bird baths the other nights. Ate on regular dishes and washed them to save on trash. Still had water to spare. As with most Lances, we’ve got 45 gallon tanks. No trash collection on these interior campsites.

In Presidio there are plenty of amenities. A Porters grocer and gas. Tru value – bought some wood there as well as some sand paper to clean off the igniter of the water heater. Did I mention tire repair shop?

Damage Report – Scratches, duh. The vent cover under the fridge fell off. The left cabinet under the sink, top hinge came off. Driver side rain gutter spout tore off. Anyone following my other adventures knows I shored up a drawer bottom. That thing is still rock solid as is the custom shelves I built into the closet by the door – while holding 12 packs of soda. That’s tough.