Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Securing my books to the cabover shelf (Boatgo Storage Nets)

Ever since I moved into the camper full-time, I had begun to collect an ever growing pile of books and DVDs. This was great, in that I was going through books at a pretty decent clip, the only problem came when I tried to raise the camper up onto the truck to take her to dump the holding tank, or to go on a trip.

The books and stuff would stay on the shelf for about as long as it took me to make my first turn, at which point they would shoot off the shelf and all over the bed.

I looked around locally for a solution, and once again turned to the many forums I belong to.

The solution to my nightmare was presented in the form of a elastic corded cargo net meant for the holding of items to the bulkhead walls of a boat by fellow forum meber, Lancealot12001.

From Lancealot12001
I purchased the Boatgo Storage Nets from Cabela's. They are item number FG-01-5250 and come in 42" or 52" length. I used a 42" net over each cabover window. The width stretches from 10" to 18" to accommodate bulky items.

Link to thread with pics

Installation was easy, about 10 minutes with a phillips screwdriver to secure the plastic hooks that the loops on the cargo net secures to.

I can now fill my bookshelf to the ceiling all the way across to even hold my small collection of DVDs and no longer have to worry about books launching themselves off the shelves.

Now, to figure out what to do with my TV remote....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In Search of Fish, the August return to Diamond Lake (08-23-2008 to 08-25-2008)

I guess you could say that I have an addiction to Diamond Lake, which is sort of funny really.

Most of my early memories of camping there involved sites with inadequate shade and annoying populations of mosquitoes. Heck, when I made my one and only actual tent camping trip there back when I first bought my little Plymouth Acclaim, the resultant sun burn and heat exhaustion almost turned me off camping for the rest of my life.

Heck, in my last tale of fishing Diamond lake with some fellow Northwest Pickup Camper Owners, I nearly sank a boat trying to fish in a sea of dragon fly larva.

But, I still find myself inexorably drawn back to that lake, and for the life of me, I don't know why. Perhaps I just love fishing there? Even though I still haven't broken my fishing curse.

So, here I am again, and I find myself returning only a month later to Diamond Lake, this time with the big Fisher Spectrum Sport of Floyd's in tow to try plying my fishing skills with an 18' aluminum boat equipped with a 90 horse power Mercury.

Just a ... Slight.... upgrade from last time. With luck, I won't swamp it this time ;).

Much like my previous trip, I reserve a campsite. Because of the fact that the campgrounds around Diamond Lake aren't built with long trailers in mind, I end up reserving the one site I can find that has a double-wide pad so I have sufficient parking to stow the boat trailer next to the camper.

In hindsight, I would have probably been better served getting a more shaded site and leaving the boat parked down by the launch with a locking pal on the trailer's tongue.

My buddy Mason has tagged along for the journey this time around, having had to miss the previous trip and in need of the urge to scratch his fishing itch.

Normally, I strike out for Diamond Lake the previous evening and make camp by around 2-3am. My regular approach wasn't feasible this time, as I had to load the camper up from my current home at the Duyck's Peachy Pig farm, and then drive down to Salem to pick up the boat. By the time I've done both, its already late and I'm getting tired.

So, in the end I wind up departing Salem, Oregon for Diamond Lake in the early afternoon and make Diamond Lake by early evening.

Since there's not too much daylight left, we leave the camper on the truck for the night and get camp set up.

Dinner consists of my usual camping staple of Chip Beef in Country Gravy on toast, and then we enjoy the evening sitting round the campfire enjoying a couple of nice cigars.

Since we want to try and get a jump on the fishing the next day, we turn in early.

The next morning, we unload the camper, and tow the boat down to the pier. Given my luck, the wind has picked up a bit and the pier closest to us is on the south east corner of the lake, so all of the waves are moving in towards the launch.

Off loading the boat goes without problem, a little bit of time spent by the two of us walking it off the trailer once its afloat via ropes. So far, so good.

While I drive the truck and now empty boat trailer back up the ramp and take it over to one of the available parking spots available for anglers, Mason in the meantime boards the boat and minds the tie offs while I squeeze myself into a life vest and go over the cast off checklist in my head.

This trip is the first time I've ever taken this boat before, given how much the boat cost, I'm more than a bit paranoid about not screwing anything up.

Now, there's one major issue about motorboat engines you need to understand. Most engines out there, or at least every engine I've ever used is carbureted.

Why is this important?

When they set the jet size on a boat engine, they usually do it at sea level, so its fuel mixture and everything is set and doesn't normally adjust for higher elevation.

So, the engine has a tendency to run rich.

What does that mean?

Means a boat newbie has to remember that its ALOT easier to flood the engine at 5200 feet up than at 100 feet up.

Given my paranoia about screwing things up, I start the engine in idle. No problems. We cast off. Still no problems. As I back the boat around the pier, the engine dies.

Well, when Floyd was educating me on how to run the boat, I mis-remembered his instructions on what pushing the ignition key in does. I remembered it as working as one would push the primer ball on a lawn mower engine, push it in, one short shot of fuel into the carb, hold it to start the motor.

What it actually does is the engine will continue to "prime" the carb until you let it off.

Remember how I mentioned it's alot easier to flood an engine at 5200 feet?

So, here we are, 10 feet away from the pier engine towards the shore getting pushed back towards the rocks and the engine's flooded.

The water around this pier is at best 6' deep at its edge and rapidly comes up.

Engine: Crank-Crank-Crank, ~Sound of Crickets~

Mason: "Matt, what do we do?"

Me: "!@##$!@$#%@#Q@#!@"

Engine: Crank-Crank-Cra-"VROOOM!"

In my frustration of trying to restart the engine, I had moved the throttled back to the idle position, but had failed to push the "neutral" toggle back in when I moved the throttle back to the starting position.

The Spectrum launches forward, lifting the bow long enough to launch Mason back onto his hind quarters, he'd been walking forward to drop the anchor before we ran aground, me still thinking the engine was in neutral.

We're off, at last, crisis averted, male pride.... only slightly dented.

So, we off, the Spectrum is purring along, though because of the flooding, the altitude, and the fact that the engine's a 2-stroke, we decide to make a lap of the lake to warm the engine up properly and burn off the excess fuel-oil mix in the carb before anchoring off and dropping a line.

Captain Dunce-Burger, Moi,

and my co-pilot, Mason, Hard Core Rocker.

So, first things first, up at the northwest corner of the lake is one of my regular fishing spots. Its cooler, in the shade of Mt. Bailey and also not too far from the fish funnel on the stream that leads out of the lake.

Lining the shore for about ten feet out are large crops of lake bottom grass that the fish would normally use to hide in.

We bring the boat along side these weedy patches and drop our bow and stern anchors.

Why two anchors?

The wind that day was blowing and had an annoying habit when we first tried just using the big bow anchor of spinning us around like a top.

With Mason's handicap, this made it extremely difficult for him to cast his line out towards the weeds before the boat would swing away from it and he'd be facing out toward the center of the lake.

Two trips around the clock and the stern anchor was dropped and tied off.

We fished this area for about two hours, with a few fish biting around us, but none seemed interested in our bait.

To add insult to injury, the Dragon Fly's were back to taunt us a second time.

This time, they were adults, and I'm guessing it had to be mating season, because they were out in force, making the beast with two backs all along the gunwales of the boat, and occasionally on top of us if we didn't flick them off.

We finally gave up on anything biting amongst those weeds, so we set off at a low speed watching the fish finder for blips we might hope were large numbers of fish.

About half way along the length of the lake heading due south, my cell phone began to ring, Matthew B, another friend and fishing buddy, he'd reached Diamond Lake. We'd spoke a day or so before and at the time, it wasn't certain if he was going to be able to make it or not.

I gave me the rough position of where we were in conjunction to local landmarks along the shores and then continued on south towards the bottom end of the lake where I'd seen several boats earlier in the day.

As we neared the south end of the lake, I brought us to a crawl and slowly made my way around to the right of gentleman floating in the middle of the water in a giant rubber donut.

What I didn't realize was the man in the donut was also waist deep in tall water plants that weren't immediately visible from the surface of the water.

It wasn't until the fish finder's depth alarm began sounding that I through the engine into neutral and leaned over the gunwale wondering how the hell we were coming up on the ground so fast when we were a 100 yards from the south shore.

What stared back at me through those crystal clear waters could only be described as an underwater forest.

Mason: "What is it?"

Me: "@#@$#&*&Weeds!"

So, I crank the wheel hard to port and throw the motor back into gear. We've barely cleared the forest when I start hearing, "THUMP-THUMP-THUMP!!" coming from the stern of the boat.

So, I kill the engine and hit the controls to raise the shaft out of the water. Wrapped all around the drive prop is a rope of those weeds. They're drawn tight like a rope on a winding drum and no amount of articulation by hand seems to be able to remove them.

Mason: "So, what do we do now?"

Me: "Gun it in reverse and hope it unwinds them."

Ironically, it worked, two brief burst of full speed stern after dropping the prop back into the water and the prop was clean.

Its about this time that Matthew B and family catch up to us. I wave at them to steer them away from following my swath cut from the weed forest and chat for a while before parting ways again to try our hand continuing the search for fish.

Campsite numbers are exchanged and we agree to meet at my campsite for beef stew dinner that night.

Mason and I spend several more fruitless hours failing to catch fish before we finally steam back towards the pier and reloading the boat onto the trailer.

By the time Mason and I return from fishing, the sun's beginning to set. A few minutes are spent unhitching the boat and securing it back at camp before we detour to the camp showers to clean ourselves of bug spray, sun block and Crab-Anise bait scent.

On our way back we swung by Matthew B's campsite and loaded up the truck bed with Matt and family and returned to camp to get a campfire going and to fix dinner.

Matthew B's daughters ended up getting roped into helping peel carrots and potatoes and not too long after, we've got the pressure cooker chugging away.

Ten minutes later, we're all gathered around the picnic table, enjoying garlic bread and beef stew, chatting about travel misadventures and Matt's hilarious tales from work.

We spend a little while round the campfire partaking of our own choices in libations, before we say our goodbyes.

Matt and family plan to push on in the morning for Odell lake, and Mason and I plan to journey on to see Crater Lake.

The next morning found us without too much trouble, and warmed up pretty quick. Mason and I had to make fast work of breaking down camp and loading it up to keep from roasting.

As usual, loading the camper was always the slowest part, blame the hydraulic jacks, we can only pump so long before we need to change position from front to rear and so on.

Since we wanted to have enough daylight to enjoy Crater Lake, we skipped fixing breakfast that morning and opted to stop by the lodge to have breakfast instead.





Sadly, I seem to always need to fill a certain misfortune quotient, and it met me when we were getting ready to hitch the boat back up to the truck.

As we were swinging the tongue over a bit to line it up with the hitch, the rock we'd wedged under the other wheel worked loose and the trailer started to roll down the slight incline of the driveway.

Lemme say this, no matter how strong you think you are, two grown men are going to be hard pressed to stop 3000lbs of boat and trailer once it gets rolling.

The trailer scooted itself down and crashed into passenger side corner of the rear of the camper leaving a small ellipse shaped puncture in the siding.

No biggie, easily fixed with a bead of caulk.

A little realignment work and we get the boat hitched up and then make the 20-point turn needed to squeeze the boat and camper back out of the site and onto the one-laner road that leads out of the park to dump station and then on to the lodge.

After a far superior breakfast compared to my last visit, we say our good-byes to Diamond Lake and turn south on highway 138. Not too far along, we stop at the view point overlooking Diamond Lake.

I'd driven past this view point many times, but had never stopped at it before. There was some rather neat little information Kiosks about the Highway below.

I just love the bit where they use an Econoline-based motorhome as a size comparison for modern travel!

We make the journey south down Hwy 138 till we reach the turn off for the Crater Lake Highway, where we part ways with the main haul and begin winding our way amongst the trees towards the entrance gate to the park.

Fully expecting to pay at the gate, it comes as quite a surprise that we had timed our visit to one of the park's celebrations and our entrance was free.  From the gate, we slowly winded our way up the side of old Mt. Mazama, the ancient volcano that later became Crater Lake. 

We finally crested the sharp switch back road up the side of the great crater and the deep azure waters of the Crater burst forth before us.



Wizard Island out in the beautiful blue lake in the center of old Mt. Mazama.  That little island is part of the original top of the volcano before it collapsed in on itself. 



Looking out at the jagged outcroppings that dodge the rim of Crater Lake’s bowl. 

The Redneck Express hiding on the shoulder of the road, the parking lot was nowhere big enough to accommodate the Express and the boat in tow. 

Also discovered the moment we got out of the pickup truck that it was freezing cold, even in late August!  Had to climb into the back of the camper and change clothes very shortly after setting foot out in just the parking lot alone, glad we did, it was even less warm when we climbed up to the rim.

We eventually made our way around to the Lodge on the south edge of Crater Lake, here there was parking large enough to accommodate the Redneck Express and the boat.  Here, we weren’t the only long rig in the lot!

Continuing on along the south rim of Crater Lake, looking out far out towards the Horizon.


Along our journey around the southern end of the Crater, we turned off to see one of the other spectacle of nature that you can find at Crater Lake, The Pinnacles.

Once again, we managed to squeeze the camper and boat into something that could possibly be described as a parking spot (Or part of the road, depending on your perspective) and hiked out along the trail overlooking the valley that the Pinnacles had formed in.

View Larger Map






After a while we returned to the Express and made our way back onto the Crater Lake Loop road.  Our next vista stop brought us to the Pumice Castle, a large outcropping of bright orange pumice rock left behind from ancient Mt. Mazama.  A combination of mixed materials and weathering created the castle-like features of this massive outcropping on the eastern wall of the caldera. 



Our last look east over the edge of Crater Lake before we called it quits and began our journey home.