Reskinning Solar Heat Collectors

 Replacing the fiberglass skins on 2 Solar Age heat collectors yourself, can save $1,000 in labor.

The two big aluminum boxes, oriented at 45 deg and facing south (we are in the northern hemisphere, southwestern US state of New Mexico), that are collecting winter sun heat on our roof and blowing 100 degree heat into our home a major part of every sunny day, are about 11′ long X 4′ wide and 6″ deep. They are lined with this type Owens Corning insulation.

After removing the top frame edges from the outer skin of 60 mil fiberglass, the top ‘skin’ can be peeled off in one sheet, exposing the 1″ aluminum square tube spacer frame and the inner sheet ‘skin’ of whatever material was used originally.
Cutting, slicing away of the sealing silicone, is required on both skins, taking care not to destroy any of the insulation. Dremel tool with reciprocating blade worked fast with minimal damage to insulation.
Remove the 1″ thick inner spacer, square tube aluminum frame work (possibly held in place with ‘pop rivets’), then the center divider section top bar, that makes the air travel  across the whole, insulated heated area in a U pattern.
Note the order of dissasembly and reverse the process to restore, sealing each of the layers of Sunlight sheeting. I used several applications of 3M mylar metallic tape to repair the aged insulation, reseal the spacer frame and for sealing each edge of both skins during reassembly, rather than 100% silicone caulk, as originally used.
Aluminum tape, to withstand accidental super heat conditions, would have been preferable to the metallic Mylar. Only the top skin required 100% silicone caulk to prevent water intrusion. Silicone, applied after final top frame sections were screwed into place.
The inner heat collector, a sheet of corrugated or dimpled aluminum, is usually toasted and has lost it’s flat black qualities while powdering. BBQ grill paint, (1 spray can) sprayed on evenly, after cleaning off the powder residue, withstands the internal high temperatures periodically occurring, whenever circulating fan is not running on sun days.
The collector chamber wafer snap disc switch (close 110 deg- open 90 deg) had failed, causing sustained overheat burning the wire connectors. Wafer snap disc switches are available on the internet for about $15.
Be sure to seal the collector’s external electrical box containing the snap disc switch connections. I used aluminum tape over each seam. The vacuum from the circulating fan will pull in cold outside air, causing a repetitive ‘start stop’ cycle of the snap switch. Circulation Fan (in ‘Active’ systems) failures can be avoided or prolonged by lubricating the fan bearings periodically.

 In operation, the cooler air flows into the system’s vacuum from the baseboard of our hall (and den), up through the wall space and into the attic duct specific for the collector.
Following a vacuum drawn (active systems) convection in a U route through the collector box, the heated air then feeds into a soft, large diameter, insulated flexible HVAC tube duct. It goes out through the roof insulated flange, into the lower side of the big insulated aluminum box.

After circulating across the aluminum collector plate (directed by a sealed wall center section), it exits through another flange, down into more soft insulated duct into the attic, where a squirrel cage blower (insulated) feeds the 100 deg heated air through  insulated flex duct, through the ceiling vent.

They were installed about 40 years ago by ‘Solar Age’. The original aluminum boxes were spaced internally with wood. The internal wood on the originals, burned into charcoal when the sun was shining without the fan running. Solar Age replaced the wood containing units, with all aluminum units (thousands of them), then folded and closed the factory.
To prolong the units life, I use big white plasticized fabric covers during summer months when the extra heat is no longer required.

This is the units first re ‘skinning’. I used 40 mil (inner) and 60 mil (outer) Sunlight fiberglass on both layers to resist heat and last longer. Internet sources for Sunlight fiberglass with one side UV coated, saved local fees for ordering and handling.
Rapidly cutting the fiberglass sheets to size required a diamond blade  from Harbor Freight, or similar cutoff disc mounted in a handheld grinder. My cuts for two layers on both units, totaled 60 linear feet. Hand held ‘snips’ were fatiguing, slow and impractical. I clamped the old sheets over the new sheets and supported both above the level cutting surface, to have a cut guide edge.
I tried the Dremel reciprocating tool saw and wore out the saw blade within the first 12″ of painfully slow progress. Wear a face shield or/and goggles and be sure to wear a well fitted breathing mask. The fine powder created by the power cutting,  is intensely invasive.

Two layers of fiberglass ‘skin’, 1″ apart (spacer frame), keep the cooler top (Outer) skin from contacting the heated inner skin section above the aluminum heat collecting plate. Result, an R factor sufficient to maintain the 100 degree heat flow most all of  the day.

When positioning the sheets during assembly, carefully align, adjust ‘All’ the edges before final taping and sealing. Remember to seal any diversion walls within the collector boxes, with whatever method you decide (I used 100% Silicone). Remember, the interior chamber gets very Hot.

These basically energy efficient units can be constructed of wood, or other suitable and convenient materials, ‘Only’ if the intense heat buildup is automatically dumped and vented by thermostat controls during times not required…. or they are covered. Otherwise the sun’s collected radiation super heats the units internally, which causes a dangerous burn of the components.

Enjoy the project. Passing on the mistakes, helps the next adventuresome technician. From “The United States of America, One Nation Under God”

ALBuquerque NM Balloon Festival 2014

The skies have been filled every morning for the past week. This world (attended and flown by international balloonists) entertainment event occurs over the 5,000′ altitude city every fall as the morning temperatures drop, making it easier for the heated balloons to lift into the sky.

The Albuquerque ‘Box’, a wind anomaly caused by the mountainous background to the river valley, is unique to ABQ NM and allows the balloons to rise and fall in semi-synchronous rhythm, thus maintaining a  relative position near the large, specially maintained grassy field, as the numbers of balloons in the air increase in count. It is quite a performance, not easily forgotten. A 360 degree panorama, yet hemispherical in dimension, live action opera of sorts.

This morning was especially interesting, due to the wispy cloud layers that played peek-a-boo with the balloons, as they rose and descended through the clouds. Numerous many are intricately designed ‘Special Shapes’, representing familiar characters from around the world.

The Rio Grande (Grand River) was the scene of countless ‘Splash and Dash’ balloonists trying their luck at wet touches, before pouring the flame into the envelopes for ascension.

Our family and their extended families in ABQ, including several from out of state (not us) left their homes and hotels at 4am to be part of this days (Sat) mass ascension observers.

Joining the 100,000 balloon aficionados on the field, wandering into and among the crayon colorful fray of engine powered fans and flames inflation and liftoff, creates a lifetime memory. The one million attendees mark for the week long event, becomes a closer reality every year.

550 balloons, lifting in waves of 100 each, is the registration limit imposed these years. In the past, a thousand have filled the skies and floated as a cloud of out of control brilliantly colored, hissing locusts over the city.        Pics of ABQ NM balloon adventures :>)

RV Holiday Rambler to Pacific Northwest


With over 70,000 miles on the now vintage 2004 Holiday Rambler motor coach, it has grown ‘long in the tooth’. Repairing and re-enforcing the two battery isolation switches, after one separated under internal spring pressure, was only one matter of which to attend. The puzzling loss of battery voltage at the switch, led to the cost saving method of drilling and installing 4-40 nuts and extended bolts, rather than the four screws into the grey plastic base section. These battery isolation switches cost between $50 and $100 each, so time and ingenuity is preferable in our situation.

Upon entry into the stored coach, I discovered that one motorized sun visor had dropped loose on one end. A piece of nylon strapping found all over lumber stores, fixed the problem. Due to the linear engineering nature of strapping tape, the holes must be melted and enlarged for the screws that hold the strap loops up to the structure above the dashboard. These visors are heavy and motor powered. I took the added precaution of re-enforcing both ends of both visors, using the strap tape.

The water reservoir had been filled previous to warm weather storage… just in case. Now the reservoir must be treated with bleach. I add one cup for the 60 gallons. we never drink the water from the taps. It is only for washing and bathing, so the mild temporary Chlorine odor from the initial water supply does not bother us. A pressure test follows with a test of the water heating systems. We have both AC and Propane. Testing of the furnace powered by Propane as well as the refrigeration unit for food and the two roof AC’s, ensures a comfortable trip.

The coach, house battery bank of  four, six volt golf cart batteries now six years old, require periodic addition of distilled water, as they are left on a  large ‘float’ maintenance charger, designed to fluctuate the storage voltage for longevity. We do not use the Xantrax converter/inverter as a power for battery storage unit. Not only is it hard on the batteries, it degrades the expensive Xantrax unit that provides power to the coach for battery charging and inverting for AC to watch TV.

The chassis battery (starts the motor and provides engine electrical, driving lights, etc) has it’s own dedicated charger to ‘float’ the maintenance voltage. Both charger/maintainers were a worthwhile investment, as the batteries are lasting well. This time the addition of a half gallon of distilled water was required. A round mirror fitted with a support wire enables me to view the water level in each cell as I add the water from a large squeeze bottle and tubing. A device that I fabricated.

Tires are another concern. Most tire failures are due to low air pressure. Causes are numerous and often traced to the extensions installed to make it easier to access the Schraeder valve. One such incident was from a service facility not tightening the extension onto the valve. At first I suspected a puncture. Further investigation and re-tightening the extensions, repaired the air loss problem. Do Not trust service facilities, they are humans and make errors.

We carry our own small Craftsman oil type piston compressor, capable of 110 # of air, with 50′ of hose and two separate gauges to verify inflation. 110# is the requirement for these 22.5″ tires. Air compressors were commonly available at all service and fuel facilities… no longer. While traveling and stopped for brief periods and before rolling each day, I take a minute to ‘whack’ the dual tires with an aluminum bat to check for the ‘ring’ of fully inflated tires. duals are deceiving, one can temporarily support the load while the other disintegrates from the heat of under inflation, thus destroying the other. After storage from last spring trip, all Michlen tires were near 110# and little additional air pressure was required.

Noted the gradual leakage from a holding tank knife valve had accumulated in clear section above secondary knife valve that we added as redundancy. City water pressure applied, to test faucets. Added one cup of Clorox to fresh water tank of 60 gallons and ran more fresh water in to mix. We only use supply for washing and flushing, we don’t drink water from holding tank, use only bottled water from Dollar Tree $1 a gallon and refill our sturdy personal bottles. When on city water and separate filter faucet is clear, we sometimes use that water for consumption in cooking or drinking….. if good tasting.

Tested the propane water heater system and the refrigerator on propane. Started and ran for 20 minutes, the generator and the chassis engine. tested the Xantrax inverter to 120 volts. Before stored, a qt of difficult to find, Marvel Mystery Oil was added to 75 gal fuel tank on last fill before driving 6 miles, so everything started up easily. Fuel pumps last longer if fuel has a bit of lube. Upper cylinder and fuel injectors also respond well, if slightly lubed. I add a qt to a full tank of fuel often, while on the highway.

Wet basement has a remote holding systems monitor that was not functioning. Removed the little panel and discovered a loose, red 12 volt wire from test switch, due to wrong connector. Repaired the connector with proper sized spade and all LED’s lit up.

Left Albuquerque New Mexico at 2:20pm on way to Farmington NM, our first night camp in the Sam’s Club parking lot. Fuel price increased overnight by .05 to $3.45 per gallon. Quiet night and leave Farmington west through Shiprock NM and turn North toward Cortez Colorado. Fascinating driving along and looking at the beautiful desert the Navajos call home. Colorado gives way to irrigation from McPhee reservoir and the fields planted with crops, including corn and hay, are doing excellent.

Utah begins with it’s modest rock formations and builds in crescendo past Monticello, as the uplifts of ‘Range and Basin’ become ever more apparent. Moab Utah. This small adventure tourism town that specializes in 4×4 rentals and tours, begins the real exposure of drastic and rapid ‘Climate Change’ over the millennia. Dozens of vertical multi-colored layer cakes of strata, forms a great background to the scenic horizons. The vertical uplifts of earth’s layers and deep slot canyons are a wonder to behold for everyone that see’s this magnificent geology.

Moab is just the beginning. National Monument of formations is a side trip not to be missed. Golden Age Pass is available at the entrance for those that qualify. The paved highway tour is well worth any amount and time. The earth torturing Range and Basin effect is described, with a view of the separated rift feature easily seen from the top of the first cliff overlook, thousands of feet higher than the valley canyon.

Following northward, the scenery just keeps inspiring. Green River Utah State Park is our destination for overnight camp. Do not confuse with the Green River National Park. Although across the river and bearing the same name, it is hundreds of driving miles in distance. Tourists learn the hard way.

Green River itself is known for growing watermelons. I assembled my bike and rode to the nearby store for a melon and a six pack of beer. Heavy distraction on a bike..

After dumping the holding tanks, we headed North toward Salt Lake City. No loaded freight trains were plodding up the Price Canyon when we passed through on this trip. Economies are often judged by freight movement. The historic little town of Helper is named for it’s extra locomotives and crews that assist the long heavy ‘consists’ of freight cars over and down from Soldier Summit.

On approach to Salt Lake City, a difference is noted. The area is growing. From the first vestiges of the dynamic valley to the last developments, we logged 100 miles. Spanish Fork was not a specially busy town three years ago. Now, as the unhindered economic snake of progress and building links the valley together, it hosts Costco and it’s nicer fuel prices.

We failed to count the numerous Costco’s along this corridor of powerful economic development continually grows. We stay periodically at the Willard Bay RV park next to the marina. The water level is about 18 feet lower than three years ago. Smaller boats can still launch. Entrance fee, just to look around, is ten dollars. The docks are laying flat on dirt. Last trip large boats were at the docks.

This is the fresh water for irrigating the valley. It is divided from the Great Salt Lake by a causeway about 20 miles long. Wiper, a laboratory fish, of crossbred Bass is sterile, but really fights on the sports line. Many other fish are stocked, even thriving during this drought when snowfall has not produced the run-off of years past.

Smith and Edwards is a great store nearby that offers vast browsing for whatever one might need. Leaving after our ‘spree’ for the big country of Idaho Falls. It’s Snake River ‘falls’ are interesting, photogenic and have a story about the services to cross the river during the gold rush days,extending into the Copper rush that built the infrastructure of electrical power lines and copper wiring for the USA.

The days of prosperity due to mining are waning across many areas today. Blame restrictions, regulations and govt ‘control’ for the environmentalists planned demise. The city park is busy with farmers markets on Saturdays. We parked overnight at the Sam’s Club after fueling for $3.50 a gallon and nearby propane fill to last our trip.

46 years ago Navigator and I were married, so we celebrated with a shared delicious house sirloin steak at Applebees. We walked around Sam’s looking at jewelry as if buying Nav a gift, before leaving their parking lot RV ‘camp’.

Butte Montana:
Our next days target, is another western state route of desolation that unnerves many tourists. The lack of trucks is noted. Steep hills and low gears are common. Butte was the site of the deep mines of Copper ore. Clark is notable as one of the ‘Copper Kings’. Anaconda Copper survives to this day, primarily in other countries more favorable to mining. His only daughter, Hugette Clark died recently, leaving a few mansions that were seldom occupied. She lived back east in seclusion and secrecy.

Walmart ‘camp’ is across the street from the cemetery where famous ‘Evel Knevel’ is buried. Last trip, I paid my respects, as a former motor cycle rider naturally would.

Missoula Montana:
Our next goal for the day’s driving. Costco fuel and lunch of polish dog and pizza, were the target. After fill of fuel and drive for evening camp at little known treasure, ‘Sloway’ National Campground, for $5 Golden Age, with no hook-ups. Nice little campground and quiet except for an occasional Union Pacific freight hauling 100 car ‘consists’ including periodic Boeing airliner fuselages along the Clark Fork River. Rode the bike around the quiet little camp as I visited with a few campers. Steel boxes placed separate for food storage keep the tenter’s food away from their tents….. Bears…

Each night’s temperature is ten degrees lower as we drive north. Last night at Butte was 35 degrees. Fall is approaching.

passing freight of 111 ‘well’ cars moving containers west (empty?) noted at 3pm while in Sloway campground. Another passed at 4:15 pm with 96 cars loaded hopper cars with three engines pull, one pusher. Another loud freight at midnight.

White packets of pheromone chemistry, MCH organic, to fool the Beatles infesting the pine trees. 41 degrees morning as Missoula is lower than Butte Montana. Costco was very crowded and fule $3.53. Cheaper than three years ago.

9-18-14 left Sloway National Park Camping:
Westward on I-90 over Lookout Summit, after leaving the Clark Fork River Valley of Montana. Roadside point of interest informed of the 1910 forest fire that consumed over 3,000,000 acres of forest. 3 Million acres is a big fire. 30 years worth of USA’s annual CO2, all produced in one big blaze.

Famous firefighter who’s name is to this day, on numerous pieces of equipment, even city streets, saved his forest firefighters (85 others perished) by leading them into a mine shaft until the conflagration had subsided. We stopped at Kellogg Idaho for lunch just off highway. Also, as Navigator had noted 3 years ago, they have city provided RV holding tank dump station with fresh water fill. Leave donation to keep it operating. Very nice.

9-8-14 Kellogg to CoerD’lene Idaho:
Pleasant drive with increasing traffic on approach to this tourism destination. The beautiful lake in the mountains attracts people from around the world. We passed through on our way toward Spokane Washington, where we intend to turn north toward Wenatche, near the Columbia River Valley that produces the nation’s fruit.

The vast fields of wheat seen from horizon to horizon on last trip, were already harvested on this trip, later in the year. No great fields of waving grain, just tilled soil ready for the winter crop. We then turned south on Hwy 17 for overnight in Sun Lake State Park. Shock at price of $42 on dirt and gravel with hook-up under trees. The lake is not far and popular with swimming visitors and camps of recreational groups. Rode the bike around the area to ascertain it’s main reason for visitors… the lake, provided by the Columbia River water.

A Deer family were puzzled by me on a bike. Not noticing the Deer until I was within their group, they allowed me to ride in among them before wandering away.

9-9-14 Moses Lake destination south:
After change in plans considering the $55 ferry transport to Whidbey Island and the ensuing traffic around the cities, the drive along the river lakes was different and interesting. Foam along the shore of the lake was apparently natural. Moses Lake Washington was at one time a plan for a spaceport that never occurred. Nice long runway and lots of infrastructure in anticipation, now provides for a lot of agriculture. This entire area of the northwest is dependent on the magnificent Columbia River for its’ irrigation and prosperity.

Kennewick fuel at Costco:
$3.64 on the Washington side of the Columbia. The Dallles is on the south side along our new route plan. Rail freight is prolific along the Columbia River, both sides have several long trains with seven engines pulling and more pulling, in view at all times. Natural Geology is magnificent along the river. We never fail to be amazed by the view. Volcanic lava formed the entire Pacific West Coast. The remains of the ancient violence are fertile and breathtaking.

Memaloose State Park:
A nice camping park along the river, was noted by Nav from former trips. Trees and more trees is the Washington state, as approach to the Pacific is made. Bike ride around the hilly park, was exercise before bed. $28 and far more pleasant than Sun Lake RV park.

Memaloose was an Indian name referring to the nearby burial site of the dead on an island now in the river after damming. The Columbia River valley is sustainable economically, only because of damming. There are those extremely vocal and political people that want the dams, all dams removed from the USA. They apparently care not, in actuality hold contempt for the prosperity and sustenance of US civilization.

Portland Oregon 9-10-14:
Our goal after Memaloose camp.
Navigator noted a truck bypass. Do Not take the truck route. You will get a long extended tour of Portland’s port and transportain facility. It is huge and traffic of trucks keep you busy avoiding them. Portland is just that, a large port for international shipping. Always thriving, it is a city to avoid in a large motor coach. We were warned about camping in Walmart. Two security guards that warned us, are required to protect the store after closing … early. Highway 30 west of Portland is nice, a pleasant drive, even with occasional log trucks, but do not do the truck routes.

Astoria Oregon:
To cross over the wonderful Astoria-Meglar Bridge, is a real adventure always enjoyed. The wide Columbia River flows under the 5 mile long bridge, with it’s elevated section for big ships to pass beneath.

Chinook and Ilwaco Washington:
We enjoy the river drive through Chinook and Iwaco on entrance to Cape Disappointment State Park. $54 for two nights only, was the availability for this well designed and popular RV and camping park on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

“O the Joy” were the Lewis and Clark party words documented on seeing the vast “Ocian’ from the first lookout point. 8 am waing inline was our only way to obtain a n extension with a site move. We took another two nights so that we could tour the Washington Long Beach Peninsula. Always interesting to visit the little settlements along the highway north. The building boom has even caused the houses to be more densely constructed.

One structure on the shoreline, a curiosity that really attracted Navigator and her camera, caused us to drive the beach sand in our Honda-Jeep. The ‘water tower’ of legal description, more resembles a lighthouse. Owned by a wealthy Salt Lake businessman, it is a piece of his shoreline empire that encloses the national park end of the peninsula ???

‘Jack’s Country Store’ is more a large trading post. Every conceivable item is sold at Jacks. If a resident, no need to ever go to a city for supplies. Jacks has everything.

Our ocean front site is only a few steps from the black sand beach. The ‘Wagon Wheel’ repeated design allows many people to camp near the shoreline and listen to the waves roar. The roar of the ocean lulls us to sleep.

Navigator noted only 10.5 VDC on our house batteries. Usually they read 12.8 VDC while no load. I dragged out the meters and read each 6 volt battery separately under load and determined that two were indeed lower than 6 volts. By reconfiguring the cables and using the stronger two batteries in series, I was able to restore over 12 VDC temporarily.

A trip to Astoria/Warrenton Oregon for four Golf Cart battery replacements at $320 with no tax, followed the local Seaside battery shop’s price of $200 more than Costco. Would have been charitable to support local Washington Peninsula business, but we left that to the wealthy philanthropists camping on the peninsula. Big guy at Costco lifted out the old set and installed the new set of four Interstate batteries into place. I did the cable connections to my cabling drawing.

After the restoration of voltage, Navigator and I ate lunch in Costco $3.51. No sales Tax in Oregon, so the necessities are somewhat cheaper. While in Warrenton Oregon, Goodwill Charity nearby had a few small ‘treasures’. Ft Stevens State Park, our next camp, is first come first serve. We drove back to Cape Disappointment to our campsite.

Nav and I trekked the nearby path of pod #2, to the black sand beach for a last view of the ocean and the lighthouse of North Head. Just a few years ago she could walk the beach and enjoyed it dearly. No longer able. The Chinese lifeboat that we monitored for many years, as storms relocated it each winter, is reduced to random shreds of orange fiberglass rubble and the little rusted lump of diesel engine is sitting upright in the sand near the pathway. Time changes everything. Rode the bike around the extensive popular campsites before nightfall.

Lined up at office for our next site in the front grassy park with no hook-ups. Still quiet and nice on grass. Pavement continues up the hill to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the US Coast Guard Station, as well as the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. We were able to obtain the wifi code from ‘Serious Pizza store, across the way, near the entrance. Nice owner with wife works hard to run the little store they refurbished and make great pizzas. Years ago he had the little shack near the lecture site of Waikiki Beach, near the entrance curve to the camping pods. The storm ravaged little beach was named after a ship’s sailing crew member from Hawaii, years ago.

Battery voltage dropping again. Nav alerted me to low readings on little Walmart digital meter that we keep plugged into lighter socket while dry camping. I had failed to fully tighten the nuts on the cables. After minor adjustment, the voltage held high throughout the entire trip.

Drove into Ilwaco for excellent Codfish and chips, lunch at ‘Ole Bobs’ on the harbor. Saturday, so the little harbor-side trade booths were set up. Lots of crafts, art and other trinkets are interesting. ‘Harbor Lights’ motel and cafe is for sale now, as is seen more and more as we travel. A formerly thriving business is now closing it’s extensive nautical gift shop as well. Signs of the ‘change’ the voters brought upon themselves?
Returned to Cape Disappointment for one last night before moving south across the Columbia River.

Broke camp and dumped our tanks. Nav watched as a class C rental unit, driven by an impatient young man, filled the fresh water tank of his unit,…. using the sewer brown tank cleanout hose at the dump station… Yuk. She mentioned that she would not like to be the next renter of that unit. Oh well, with age comes wisdom…sometimes.

Drove our rig one last time south across the beautiful Astoria-Meglar bridge to Astoria. It is under continual restoration, so a slight delay. Ft Stevens near Warrenton opens early, so we wanted to get site of preference. They are all very nice sites, on circular loop paved roads embraced by big trees. Ft Stevens itself is fascinating to explore. A bit of  driving and walking tours around the various and extensive, historical concrete structures, that at times guarded the Columbia River on both sides and river front from attack, proves very educational each visit. The Pacific Northwest was well guarded, even attacked a couple of times. Highly technical, the revolutionary for their time, ‘hiding’ cannons were controlled by triangulation co-ordinates.

Two nights in coastal forest for $54 with basic electrical hook-ups, was very pleasant in comparison to several other random places we have visited over the years. Summer season has Ranger Talks on weekends. ‘Graveyard of the Pacific’ describes the hundreds of shipwrecks around the mouth of the Columbia River. Coast Guards from around the world come to the Columbia River to train at the violent current area of the offshore ‘Bar’, where the out flowing, river meets incoming tide during the winter storms.

Warrenton Oregon was ‘Cod and fries’ along with a bit of treasure hunting in charity thrift shops. Returned to coach, rode the bike around the entire park and an evening of logging our trip and reading before a quiet night.

Breakfast, with electric heater to take the night chill off the interior, after which we explored the South Jetty. Still in awe of the Jetties of the Columbia River. These massive rock structures were constructed during the 1800’s, using railroad cars to haul the 30 ton ‘Armor stones’ out over the ocean, to be dumped in place, preventing the ocean from changing the channel current while enabling the river to flush the deep water passages for maritime navigation by huge freighters.  Rebuilt many years ago, they are scheduled for future restoration. The Armor stones originally came from Idaho by barge before being loaded aboard specially constructed, dumping rail cars pulled by steam locomotives, as the trestles and rails were continually being extended far out into the ocean. Men of steel, with nerves to match?

Peter Iredale:
The wreck’s prow is still visible, extending up from the sandy beach. An Iron hulled sailing ship, it ran aground 100 years ago. Storms this last winter exposed temporarily, the keel. The iron plates were savaged from the hull many long years ago. Climbed the observation deck while Navigator waited, taking pictures from the Honda-Jeep.

Drove out to the river side beach and watched a large ocean freighter leave Young’s Bay for the river mouth. Noted Driver’s License had expired and drove to Astoria to find out if we could contact New Mexico DMV for extension? Not possible. Easier to acquire an Oregon DL than NM from out of state. I just drove very carefully, not desiring police attention after that.

Thrift store treasures hunted, then return to Ft Stevens and chilly coach, requiring the electric heater again.

9-16-14: through 9-19:
Left Ft Stevens State Park and drove the intersting coastal 101 south to Brighton Harbor. We like the ambiance of the little privately owned fishing and crabbing harbor. Kelly and his wife run it now. His mom owns the next fishing harbor south, so they have the experience requred to manage the busy little marina, provide crabs and gear to fish for whatever is in season. Kelly boiled a large Dungeness Crab ($23) for Nav and I to eat for supper in the coach. Only one night stay, after a bit of exploring back up the coast in the Honda, and we left around noon.

Tillamook River RV Park:
Base for two nights as we explore the capes, Tillamook and points further back north. Noted that prices are rising as rapidly inflation affected Obama Dollars do not go very far. Even thrift stores are feeling the rising costs as their expenses are rising faster than their sales. Last time we stayed in this little park, a big Blue Heron electrocuted itself on the power transformer. It sounded like an explosion and knocked out power for the afternoon. Eagles have nested and raised their young in the trees nearby. Nehalem recycle center ‘Re-Store’ has organized and raised prices. Interesting, but no longer attractive for our needs.

9-19-14 leave Tillamook River RV camp:
Newport Harbor Marina:
70 miles south on 101 is always beautiful to drive. Each curve presents a panorama of ocean. Found my old ‘Popeye’ the sailor man, Keith and I discussed the marina as if we had never changed over the years. He is aging as I am. His Samoan wife is still working for the marina, as is Keith. They live aboard their sailing boat, as they have since arrival, sailing from the Philippines many years ago when we first met..

We discussed the numerous boats that are being neglected during these economically weak times. ‘Silent Running’, a beautiful sailing cruiser that was meticulously maintained three years ago, is now falling into the status of neglect. Walking the docks for many years, I recognize many of the same boats at dock. Not a good economy time for recreational sailing.

Commercial and sport fishing are doing extremely well. The effect of the China Industrial Revolution is feeding nutrients to the Arctic Ocean and the source of molecular life. Those cells in turn feed the chain of marine life upward. Fishing is great. I observed a man wheeling a load of sleek Tuna to the cleaning table, then for sale to the restaurant business. He had returned from the 35 mile horizon, where the big fish lurk. Environmentalists refer to the airborne iron compounds released from China, as ‘pollution’ and desire it being ‘controlled’, their only response to everything they do not fully comprehend.

Sea Lions are still barking across the harbor. They survive and multiply, protected by law on the harbor jetty and the docks. One grabbed a little girl from dock, as her dad unloaded their sport fishing boat. After taken down, the Sea Lion released her to survive. The harbor front shops are interesting and Mo’s is still thriving with waiting lines for their Clam Chowder and fish dinners.

9-20 to 922:
Trip back north to Lincoln in the Honda Tow, where we prowl around a few favorite places and have Fish lunch. Another trip back along the river to the logging town of Toledo Oregon, named by the son of a businessman. The sun missed Toledo Ohio.

Following the Yaquina River upstream nine miles from Newport to Toledo, a small (population 3,600) deep water port town of historic note as a lumber logging mecca in the days before the world’s ‘do gooder’ tree lovers. Toledo was at one time, lasting almost a hundred years, thriving and logs were floating 24-7 in hundreds of ‘rafts’ downriver from the surrounding mountains of the Cascades, to the rail terminals and barges.

Feeding the lumber demand of a building nation, was Toledo’s role, ‘back in the day’ ending in the 1960’s. The Yaquina River is still structured with the vertical pilings that tied off the log rafts awaiting transport and the countless docks and piers serving the needs of the accompanying Toledo boat building industry. A profitable business that also thrived from the spruce production. Fishing, the west coast’s bread and butter, drove the boat demands.

WWI aircraft were also built from spruce processed in Toledo Oregon. ‘Spruce Goose’ as well? Toledo hosts a ‘Wooden Boat’ gathering each year.

Toledo was one of many great little business opportunity cities that were scattered across the USA. All that is near dead now, except for a processing mill that seems to generate sawdust slurry for particle board, more than logs for lumber. The little ‘Art’ colony now depends on tourists to buy ‘stuff’ for it’s existence.

The mountains surrounding Toledo are now becoming overgrown with timber, getting prepared for massive forest fires. ‘Save the Trees’ is in reality setting them up for total destruction and waste, while adding mega tons of CO2 to the atmosphere. Sometimes universities and their misguided special interest groups, create the problems they then fight by passing counterproductive laws, while they wring  their hands attempting to solve the problems they create?

Navigator discovered a few unique items in one little museum like shop, the home to a nice cat with blue eyes. The shop owner, retired Marine was happy to sell his first items in the last three days. One item was a little old paddle with wooden chickens that pecked the seeds when the paddle was gently swung in a circle. Is that different or not ? :>)

Toledo is near the beginning of the longest highway across America, ending near Boston. Highway 20 is the western end of that historic road from east to west. Two lanes of mostly blacktop, it winds over 300 miles through the Cascade Mountains and crosses the Oregon desert into Idaho.

We are checking this desolate route, little used but scenic over the mountains, as an alternative route bypassing smoky (logging prohibited) and therefore burning, northern California. Being a narrow, twisty two lane, hwy 20 is not motor coach friendly. Neither is coastal highway 101, but that is our chosen scenic route along the pacific coast of Oregon.

Today we ate burgers for lunch, passing up the fish and chips temporarily. :>) Tomorrow we plan to head south for further adventures, leaving our beloved historic ‘Conde McCullough’ master engineered bridge of Newport and checking out the beautiful Pacific coast of Oregon.

9-22-14 Salmon Harbor, Winchester Bay:
The drive south was fine and filled with photo opportunities. Re-Fuel at Florence, the beginning of the north end of the National Coastal Sand Dunes (really Big dunes with forests growing all over them) that extend visibly along the highway for over 20 miles. As the dunes grow, by wind that increasingly blows sand inland, the pine trees and other species take root and climb ever higher. Small fresh water lakes and lagoons are spread throughout the dunes inland.

This area encourages ATV and motorcycles rather than descriminate against the riders. Winchester Bay has rentals for those that do not bring their own ‘Off Highway Vehicles’. No telling if the environmentalists will force legislation to end this sport, thereby eliminating the livelihood of the numerous campgrounds and motels, restaurants and little stores catering to the excited tourists that arrive from all over the nation. Fishing attracts even more goal oriented visitors.

The beautiful Umpqua lighthouse, inland from the ocean, with it’s majestic original Fresnel lens, still operates. Restored for the benefit of tourism. A small gift shop is located in the museum, a former light keeper residence. Modern navigation has little need for such historic methods of navigation. Some absolute fool shot at the historic lens and damaged it years ago.

I watched as the ‘Pearl J’ offloaded it’s fish from it’s hold packed in ice. The lift operator places the container where the forklift places it on the scale. The operator then collects the data onto his smart device for recording. Only a small note pad backs up the reading. A boat from ‘Deadliest Catch’, Grizzly, a deep water fishing boat, is also docked here when not in Alaska. With the fishing so good along the Pacific Coast, the big boats can earn even more profit out of Winchester Bay.

Rates, $30 for two nights, for overnight on the parking lot with no facilities, are double what they were three years ago. Another sign of the decreasing value of Obama dollars. $10 to dump and a limit of only 20 customers per day, set the stage for our departure early.
A ‘Wolf Creek’ brand camper in front of us, has a hybrid Wolf for a pet.

Drove north back to Reedsport for treasure hunting in small shops and a delicious take-out Blackberry pie from the bakery in the old part of town near the river, while partaking of their wifi.

Returned to Winchester Bay:
Brought a ‘Fish and Chips’ from the floating Cafe ‘Ungar’s Bay’ owned by Cassie, who now also operates the Blue Heron tavern in Coos Bay.

Talking to a sailing aficionado at the dock late in the afternoon, was a very interesting four hour marathon of exchange between our cultures, history and political differences of opinion. He has ridden a bicycle from British Columbia to Saskatchewan. A liberal Canadian pensioner, employed by govt all of his life, we had our differences. He has sailed to Mexico and Hawaii and returned to British Columbia, his home port as a ‘live aboard’. This cruise is to San Francisco and across the Pacific Ocean on the ‘trade winds’ documented by Murray’ after the WWII years.

One hundred years of sailing knowledge accumulated from hundreds of sea going ocean captains, Murray compiled the first sailing charts necessary for the success of every sailing vessel today.

Kevin brought out his charts, showed me the intricacies of the winds and ocean currents during our discussions. Described in detail his 40 foot fiberglass double ender vessel with it’s yanmar auxiliary diesel engine, built in indonesia, purchased in an estate sale in British Columbia where it harbors near Victoria. The full height cabin ceiling is inlaid strips of fine teak, as is the fit and finish of the cabinetry.

Kevin designed and installed a heat transfer system to bring the propane heated air inside the cabin, lower to the floor where the chill settles. It is his compact, efficient home afloat. Rare is the privilege to meet an intelligent person like Kevin, rarer still to be invited aboard. Weather is about as expected this time of year on the Oregon coast. 59 degrees and cloudy days, cooled and rained all night.

The boats that are neglected in this wet harbor, show it fast with green growing ‘fur’ over all of the decks and lines. Birds and their excrement add to the accumulation of neglect, creating questionably, a work of art? Kevin noted his own active vessel accumulating a bit of ‘furry’ growth on it’s surfaces as he awaits in harbor, the favorable north winds to drive his 40′ sailing craft further south, then turn west to Hawaii and then, Kevin mentioned as if a common natural occurrence, circumnavigate the world..

The woman owner of the ‘Staten Yacht’ a Pirate ship facsimile, is living aboard temporarily and restoring it for sale after her husband passed away. The mast had to be cut away to save the structure after rot. Deck house must be replaced and numerous items need attention.

Navigator and I drove back to Reedsport in the tow, 3 miles back north. A crippled tourist town dependent on tourism and fishing,  several of the formerly prosperous, small tourist malls (small buildings with several vendors) were now closed. A couple remain that we recognized from past trips.

Now we are headed to Coo’s Bay and plan to camp in the casino lot free for two nights before deciding what direction to proceed. Home is one option, due to my expired driver’s license not renewable on line, crossing into regulatory obsessed California, especially with our two little travelers (turtle and bird) is now extremely risky.

9-24-14 Coos Bay Oregon:
It took a short amount of time to drive the rig the scenic 25 or so miles south from Winchester Bay, to the harbor town of Coos Bay. The first item of interest is another impressive coastal Oregon bridge. A large bow tie shaped green array of steel girders set in place among concrete ramp structures many years ago, it does form a high clearance for shipping, a majestic scene over the harbor entrance.

The harbor itself is an abstract horseshoe of large proportion, that wraps around and forms the front street of the city facing inland away from the ocean. At one time the city was right on the harbor docks, but a massive fire removed the city location, to a few blocks away from the harbor waterfront and brought about the new city, wisely built of bricks rather than volatile wooden frame.

The main reason for the city’s early existence, was the harbor and connected waterways to enable trade goods from San Francisco to arrive by way of ship. Coal and timber were Coos Bay products. The overland routes from the interior of Oregon were long and twisty mountain trails for wagons and horses.

Timber was and still is the main ingredient in the city’s economics. The individual mills at one time numbered in the hundreds of small enterprises. The railroads were of course drawn like a magnet and further changed Coos Bay’s economy into a politically powerful economic demographic.

With the acquisitions by the politically powerful Timber Barons, two main mills today survived the uncertainties of economic times and gradually acquired the small units. Simpson family was one noted in history. One beautiful estate overlooking the wave ravaged entrance to the stormy harbor, was burned to the ground during misfortunes of the once powerful Simpson family. A ship wreck on the rocks below the high bluff, provided the lumber to rebuild the large home, site to several lavish parties for the elite. The creative and expansive garden structure survives today as an Oregon state park, open to visitors…. for a fee.

Today we drove out past the early port town of Charleston, where we had fish and chips at a small family owned facility near their small popular harbor, to the Simpson Point. An artist’s dream, where the river bar meets the tides in a jumble of large volcanic rocks littered with seals, seal lions and every other related sea going mammal. Did you know that the ‘Elephant’ Sea Lion (with it’s big floppy nose) can dive to over 4,000 feet deep? It weighs up to 5,000 pounds… wet.

The average Sea Lion can weigh up to only 2,000 pounds. A virtual lightweight in comparison. The diminutive common Seal is a furry toy. They all congregate at one time or another on these inhospitable rocks lashed with ferocious wave action. We watched a few surfers brave the rocky vertical shoreline to impress themselves with their skill at surviving the surf, which today was running high, before it crashed onto subsurface, ancient volcanic flow rocks. Craft punishing waves approaching 19 feet, were reported on the ‘bar’, that often violent section where outgoing river meets incoming ocean tidal cycles.

Navigator and I tour this area each time we pass through, over the several years of our travels. Today we find relatively few treasures in the charity thrift shops everywhere we stop, a vast difference from even several years ago, when more wealth resulted in more quality discards.

The overall prosperity from the logging of the surrounding tree covered mountains where rain falls in abundance, is still evident, but ever more advanced mechanization removes the human element from the equation. Demands for ever rising wages, made from the vocal and politically motivated, have the end result in ever more machines to replace costly  humans.

The surviving big mills are still churning huge numbers of logs into timbers, but machines do the work formerly requiring large teams of manpower. We watch endless trucks with logs go into the large wood facilities, as others leave stacked with precision cut lumber for industrial demand elsewhere.

The Japanese ships that are fully automated, loading logs from their own Oregon mountainsides, bought many long years ago for the express purpose of growing timber, still rule the harbor in volume exported.

The highly technical, automated ships process the Japanese owned logs, cut on their own bought and payed for mountain forests of Oregon, as a floating mill. The cargo then moves out of port while the onboard mills continue operating 24-7. Destined to various demanding cities, including LA and SFO. The milled lumber is to spec, demanded by Home Depo and any other quantity buyers.

The Oregonians rage among themselves politically, at the audacity of Japan to be so creative and deprive Oregonians of the jobs and timber, Oregonians self righteously demand as….. theirs.

The boardwalk has on display tied to the docks, several very large ocean tugs used in maneuvering the big ships in the deep ‘turning basin’ of Coos Bay. Several other smaller ships of historic nature, not as bulky, but still interesting, are on display as well. All orderly arrayed in the general area near the city center, easily accessed by tourists.

Our formerly free overnight campsite in the large and open gravel parking lot of the Old Mill Casino, on the former site of a large dockside lumber mill, now charges $15 a night for the parking lot dry camp. Up until a year or so ago, it was free, as the overnight guests used the Casino facilities and played it’s games of chance.

Apparently the ‘new economy’ with it’s free services for the rapidly expanding numbers of underprivileged, does not cover the amenities once offered free. A common scene now that the reality of Obama dollars dropping value requires a lot more wealth redistribution…. to buy everything of value.

We will leave the Oregon coast tomorrow, heading inland for a couple of reasons including state of California border restrictions involving Nav’s little bird. Reluctant also to enter California and it’s smoky fire engulfed landscape from ‘Saving’ too many trees, leaving the forest to burn, we are contemplating foregoing our beloved Brookings Harbor in Oregon’s southern banana belt. Perhaps another time in the future?

9-25-14 Coos Bay to Medford Oregon:
About 200 miles in 4 hours. Beautiful two lane highway with improvements in progress. Green trees, bushes, grass is closest to the coast. Less fungi inland, along with more tree variations. Meeting oncoming Log trucks every few minutes indicates a strong local economy.

One estate sale near Mertyl Oregon, with home in the forest overlooking a small river, resulted in a few little treasures and nice conversation with elderly lady. Nav wanted to buy the little house in the forest :>) Continue on to Medford Oregon. Prosperity obvious where logging and ranching is active. Lots of contented cows and green pastures.

Carl’s Jr burgers 2 for $5 with country music, first heard since Montana week of trip. Walmart at north end of Medford on Crater Lake highway is best for parking lot ‘camp’. Newer store, Eagle Point further out than the busy city store. Drove back into city center for thrift store hunt and treasures.

9-26-14 leave Medford Oregon.
Costco fuel was $3.49 per gallon fill, then take highway 140 east toward NM. Beautiful drive over the Cascade Mountains passes near a mile high. Lots of lower gear… up and back down.

is 4,000′ altitude and cold in winter.  Medford lower and milder winter. Where Medford with it’s lumber mills and manufacturing appears prosperous, Klamath Falls appears distressed. Homeless in abundance on day we were passing through, defines Klamath, as does vacant store fronts. Rail terminals should provide some resources? The city center is attractive with inlaid bricks crosswalks and restored brick store fronts, cafes. Nice city park shows that they are trying.

Wendy’s lunch and leave for Lakeview 90 miles away on highway 140 now a narrow two lane, with ongoing construction straightening out the curves through the mountain passes. Farmland that requires irrigation to grow crops. Easily becomes desert without water from mountain snow. Fields of hay, beef cattle and many horses dot the landscape.

Lakeview County Fair was open for camping easing doubts of Navigator. $5 for the night in parking lot with no facilities. Quiet ‘camp’ and a local gun show was setting up for Saturday. I walked through and enjoyed the pre-show in the little display hall, before returning to coach for the night.

9-27-14 Saturday leave Lakeview Oregon:
Windy night in the fairground. Nice to get rolling again after breakfast. Forests covered the eastern slope of the mountain as we growled and twisted our way to elevation of 6,000′.

Desolation valley after the forest. One particular climb of a long ‘shelf’,  growled the coach to about 3,000′ + above the valley floor, with no real hard edge on the narrow two lane highway. Long way to roll if a mistake was made. I assume a few have rolled their way to the bottom?

Met about 24 vehicles and one 18 wheeler on the entire trip east out of Lakeview Oregon. The climbs revealed a wide spread valley with high mesas that resembled the moon. Only irrigation saves it from desert. Nav drove onward toward busy hwy 95, where we turn south to Winimucca Nevada and Interstate 80. Hank Snow “I been everywhere man” comes to mind when we hear Winimucca.

Casinos and fuel at $3.45 Flying J. Cod specials at Long John Silver’s before truckin’ away to Elko Nevada. Prosperity more apparent in Nevada, where they mine the earth quietly out of sight of the environmentalists and gamble their paychecks.

Elko Nevada is Walmart camp, leave 9-28-14:
On the hill just off the highway, Walmart is easy to find. We love Walmart. Camping is cheap and supplies are just a walk away. I usually spend time wandering the aisles and gathering a few items like Marvel Mystery Oil, the machinery saving oil added to fuel, that is rarely found in eco-obsessed states like California.

After breakfast we roll down the exit hill and across more moonscape toward Wendover Utah. As we top out on approach to the Great Salt Lake Desert, we are greeted with a vast expanse of … water. First time we have seen the flat salt soaking wet. 100 miles of shallow soaked wet salt with periodic tracks leading off the highway where drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. This is one long flat, straight highway. I can imagine the repairs to fix the salt encrusted mechanicals after a fast ride into the salt slop followed by a quick stop. Big rigs temporarily leave their front end fiberglass behind as markers.

The same storm that soaked Phoenix, soaked the Great Salt Lake Desert, leaving it a dirty beige, rather than the pristine white normally observed. Salt tolerant weeds thrive when it rains. No intricately flying rocketry was seen this trip. Dugway proving ground puts on a show periodically, that can easily be watched from the highway across the salt desert.

Approaching Salt Lake City, Morton Salt is busily harvesting ‘product’. Dealing with salt. Eat the stuff, it’s prolific here. Kennicott is busy with it’s huge complexes of whatevers, producing more of what it sells. Looks like it is on break today, as we drive past the large infrastructures and around the mountain toward the Salt Lake itself.

Our goal is Spanish Fork where we fueled on trip to the west. This time Nv took us on a shortcut.  Today fuel was cheaper at $3.21. Spanish Fork, which has developed rapidly over the last years, is at the southern end of the 100 mile corridor that relates and intertwines economically to Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake itself is only a small remaining percentage of the large basin that was formerly a vast inland sea. We ate Costco Polish Dog and Pizza before continuing on to Green River Utah State Park, where we camped on way northwest four weeks ago.

The vast expanses of earth’s resultant plate tectonics causing geologic uplifts, are really brilliantly lighted as the sun sets. The layer cake of strata from eons of ‘Climate Change’ are outstanding. Range and Basin western states geology is photogenic today.

South to 7,000′ Soldier Summit pass, into Price Canyon, following the railroads down to lower elevation, rewarded us with a few trains today. Our campsite was tight in between trees. Rain and hail followed our registration. I had to put the bike away fast and watch the storm from inside the coach.

Navigator extracted the coach from the greedy trees as I monitored from outside. Dumped the tanks and headed toward New Mexico by way of Moab and Monticello, Southwestern Colorado’s irrigated farmland, through simpler landscape to Shiprock NM and turn east back to Farmington NM for the night camp in Sam’s Club.

Fuel was $3.45 at Farmington Sam’s, due to four corners fuel price controls, historically by one family. Nav found ABQ fuel ‘Gas Buddy’ at $2.94, so we only added enough to make it to ABQ. Sam’s ABQ fill, a quart of  Marvel Mystery Oil added and home to park in driveway for 2 days of unloading. While engine was still warm, I crawled beneath the coach to grease the 13 fittings, drain the oil and change the filter. Fill with new oil and refill the batteries with distilled water. Even new, they took 16 ounces for each of the four batteries totaling 1/2 gallon.

Unloading treasures and supplies took two days. Chores, mowing the tall grass in the back yard and restoring other necessities, takes a bit of unwind time after an extended trip. The horizons seen, memories to store, are worth every penny spent. What an amazing country, The United States of America, One Nation Under God. God Bless .

New Mexico State Fairgrounds day…bikes

Beautiful morning to load up the Honda CRV for a day of adventure. Reminiscent of many years ago, when I often led our sons on Saturday expeditions to the ‘Expo’ NM State Fairgrounds. About a 20 mile round trip.. on bicycles during the off season. They naturally, being young boys still in elementary school, ‘jumped’ their BMX bikes over every curb and bump in the sidewalk along the way. In essence, they covered twice the distance that I did.

Many years ago, departing before dawn, riding through darkness and under street lights for much of the way, we often stopped for breakfast at a Hardee’s near Menaul at the Coronado Mall. Croissant sandwiches provided the energy to keep up the action. Along the way, (we took several different routes on numerous trips), there were city parks, bridges, arroyos and flood control systems to explore. The two malls, Winrock and Coronado, were an interesting commercial diversion. People being people, ‘After’ we locked our bikes securely to a strong post. The state fairgrounds has a large parking lot flea market on most Weekends. Entrance was free back then.

Adventure was the theme that Saturdays brought. Today the two riders in my ‘biker gang’, are young sons of one of those sons. One starting first grade, the other in Kindergarten. As we approached the fairgrounds, I was unsure of history being repeatable. Legalistic attitudes have changed the USA… not for the better. We parked the Honda on a side street across from the fairgrounds. Noting an open gate walkway being used by workers, we unloaded and reassembled the bikes for the little morning jaunt. These grandsons are a bit younger and unable to complete a long tour….. at this time.

Walking the bikes across the busy street near McDonald’s, into the target area of entrance, where the livestock trailers enter, proved challenging, as few cars would slow or stop for the three of us at this intersection. On this day the grounds were being prepared for the opening day of the State Fair, only weeks away.

Few of the workers even spoke English, let alone desire to challenge three ‘bad bikers’. The boys rode units they are comfortable on, Raleigh 24″ Scout for the older brother and a 20″ Diamondback Recoil for the younger. Two vintage restored bikes with multi-speeds, a couple of former derelicts from charity thrift stores. I rode my venerable long frame Mongoose 20″ trick ‘spinner’, to hold conformity among my eager followers. ‘Slime’ in the tires is mandatory, to prevent surprises.. flat tires from Goathead thorns.

We first rode through a few of the big livestock barns, then proceeded up and down the walkways between the hundreds of stalls for exhibition live stock. Shade was welcome to stay out of the sun today. I attempted to inform the youngsters of each place of importance wherever we stopped. Gradually they came to realize they had been in this place before. It is definitely different without the thousands of people, live animals and entertainment.

The big buildings, the stages for entertainment and the numerous walks and doorways kept the young riders rolling without effort, as they gazed at their somewhat surreal ambiance.

The Tingley Coliseum doors were open, so we rode through the wide open, grand entrance gap of  competition horse riders, bulls, broncs, past the iron gated, narrow ‘chutes’ where the bucking broncs and bulls with riders aboard, are released out into the center of the big air conditioned arena, where the nationally acclaimed cowboys and animals put on their shows.

The moistened fine dirt in the arena, heavily laced with wood chips, was fluffed up softer for the upcoming performances and difficult for our bikes to plow through. Some official looking people were in the grandstands, ostensibly to plan what was to occur during the rodeos and professional musical entertainment that take place each evening to come.

We peddled back outside, around the iron gated corrals where the rodeo stock lounges, eat well and await their next performance. We proceeded then down a long ramp under the race track, through a cool concrete tunnel, and up, out into the infield. The boys enjoyed the tunnel and yelled for echo effect as they rode through. They wanted to repeat that experience. Some days the horse races are in action at ‘The Downs’, with the tinted-glass paneled grandstand filled with aficionados of ‘the sport of kings’.

The rows of individual stables were mostly empty on this day, except tor the race horses and others kept and boarded at the grounds. We checked out one pony eating it’s hay, while others were tethered to revolving exercise devices. The prestigious international Arabian horse show, Quarter Horse associations, Roping groups and other associations periodically throughout the year perform and compete in these large NM State facilities.

The Pueblo Indian Village (No teepees) was vacant today. Soon it will be packed with people seeking Indian Tacos, Fry Bread, stew and watching the dances performed by Southwest and New Mexican tribes, as well as southern continent Aztec Indians performing their intricately wild leaping form of martial arts dancing. All while wearing long feathers in their unique head dresses. We rode our bikes among the corridors and onto the stage before reversing our track.

The Hispanic heritage village is in fine form and ready for it’s numerous food vendors. Yes even ‘Menudo’… the breakfast of champions. The stage is a very large, thick wooden planked area, that resonates the fast Spanish dancers ‘taps’. Each dance performed in a building crescendo of colorful whirling skirts and ornate traditional attire.

Today it was eerily silent, as we rode our bikes up the ramps and around on the wooden area of performance. At one point we became separated among the structures. The ‘gang’ members are shorter than much of the stages and platforms for other attractions. A brief moment made me think ‘their mom will be mad at me for loosing them’.

The fair attracts many performers aside from the rodeo. Bird shows amaze, with trained birds doing remarkable tricks. Piglets that race around a grassy track, to get a reward upon finishing.

We even had ‘Diving Mules’ that absolutely loved their own performance. They immediately sensed and perked up their ears, when they were about to be released from  their large air conditioned trailer and corral, and into the diving area. They eagerly ran up the ramp then slid off the platform into the big water tank, where they paddled to the exit ramp to repeat their fun.

They enjoyed it during the hot days, so much so, that they could hardly get around fast enough to do it again. They didn’t want to return to their corral. As expected, conforming to their agenda, animal rights groups piously declared that the mules didn’t like it.

South American musical groups with pan flutes, guitars keep up their fast rhythm while selling their CDs. Aerial acrobats entertain along side the main street. High divers, periodic motorcycle riders in large wire cages, amaze the crowds without colliding into each other.

Lions and Tigers that were retired, put on their own show, with no actual performance. They just walked around sniffing, whizzing and enjoyed each others company every few hours within the big cage. No pressure, just doing what big older cats do. They really enjoyed the evenings. White Tigers are beautiful and quite interested in the crowds. Especially little children. Maybe as a snack ;>) Food of every imaginable culture is available around the extensive food court. Eating at the fair, is tradition.

BMX bike performers put on 1/2 pipe and other demonstrations, flying through the air like back flipping birds in formation, while dismounting and remounting. Contortionists and floor acrobats along with many musical groups keep up the music and theme of fun. Of course the midway, with it’s countless games and numerous entertaining rides, is busy most of the day and especially crowded evenings, when the real ‘people of ‘Walmart’ come out :>)

The two passenger bungee launch is one ride I care not to do. It flings vomit from the riders, high into the air, as they flip uncontrollably for many cycles. At one time tractors and skid loaders dug holes and did ‘dances’, exhibits had farming equipment. Not any more, as this urbanized state fair has gotten far less rural. County fairs, such as Roswell NM, have kept the rural tradition of ranching alive.

The sprinkler irrigation was in full effect today, to bring the green grass to a depth able to sustain somewhat, it’s greenness under attack from thousands of fair goers. Water was collecting in the main street area under the tall tree canopy of fairground Main Street. Of course with little opportunity to experience actual water lying around arid NM, the boys rode back and forth repeatedly in their newly discovered ‘river’,  to spray the collecting water in wakes and bow waves.

I waited in the shade and listened to some Owls in the high cottonwood trees. West Nile Virus decimated the fairground Crow flocks many years ago. Swallows inhabit most of the door-less buildings at this time. We surprised a few swallows and numerous pigeons and doves, that panicked as we rode through the long interconnecting hallways. One building had open glass doors. We rode in, to see a man washing the floors in preparation for exhibits. He pointed the way back out ,as we turned our bikes around.

The boys are now excited to attend the Greatest show in NM, the State Fair. We left with that thought fresh in our mind. Riding back out through the big barns and through the open walk gate, after a couple of hours of adventure, we again had to cross the gauntlet of traffic. One car stopped and others reluctantly obliged. We located the Honda waiting patiently beneath a large shady tree.

We disassembled the pedals and one front wheel, to load the three bikes into the small SUV for the trip back to the house. They may or may not compare notes with their dad, as to this day’s adventure. A repeat of the past, where I led the invasion of a state facility and was their ‘leader of the pack’ :>).

Enjoy life in the United States of America. One Nation under God, with Freedom and Liberty for all. Despite relentless attack,  Freedom still is holding.

E 300 Razor Scooter restoration

This project began innocently enough with a visit to the Animal Humane charity thrift store. Two forlorn E (rechargeable electric) Razor scooters, an e 100 and an e 200, sat dead and neglected for half price day. $7.50 each… dead, no chargers. Purchased the e 200, contemplated e 100. On arrival home, wife said go back and get the other, we have two grand sons visiting often enough to keep two scooters busy.

No such fortune, they had already sold e 100. Attempt at recharge using car charger on each of the two 12vdc AGM batteries on the red e 200, was not successful. Locating a source on Ebay, two new 9ah AGM sealed batteries…. rated above the original 7ah, arrived within days.

Price for two batteries (measure and comparison shop, some are priced ridiculously high from some suppliers) was about 10% of the cost of a new e 300 scooter. Success… after cutting battery wires and fitting spade connectors of correct size (1/4″).

Cut each wire away from it’s individual battery and fit each new connector, one at a time, to avoid confusion in the series circuit. There are available OEM batteries pre-wired to simplify replacement under the removable deck. They cost substantially more.Two 12 vdc batteries in series, equals 24 vdc to power the scooter. Charger must be rated to recharge the 24 vdc system after 40 minutes of use.

Batteries were charged on arrival, the motor spun the wheel while on the workbench. A charger from Ebay completed the scooter’s useful package. I had made sure the motor ran previously to ordering new batteries, by using two cars linked together with jumper cables in series. A 12 ga electrical wire completed the jump test from cables to the scooter’s dead batteries.

The grand kids found it so exciting, that a system of timed intervals (stove timer) was necessary to assure fairness in ride time. Craig’s List had another e 200 for $15. Gone by time of arrival, the lady gave me a free e 300 decrepit derelict.

Home on the bench, tests indicated batteries and controller were in need of replacement. Lighted power switch was decayed beyond repair. Battery to switch connector was soldered firmly into position. A simple off-on replacement switch, rated to handle the amperage, fit the cutout opening enough for temporary use.

Found on Ebay, a ‘parts only’ e 300 for $79 with free shipping.   On arrival it was apparent that it had been sold new and abused, possibly backed over by car, then returned to dealer fraudulently. A couple of hours disassembling and straightening the damaged rear drive sprocket for true running, proved the new gray e 300 street worthy. Now we had two working scooters…. and the free derelict.

Forums online for the Razor scooters, detailed one US soldier’s experience while on duty in the middle east. He weighed well over 200 pounds and rode his rechargeable e 300 scooter 4 miles to his office daily. It’s easy maneuverability through traffic, saved him over three hours daily, in comparison to traffic congested transportation by bus.

After success on the other two scooters, I felt like restoration was possible on the e 300 derelict. New Mexico climate does not promote rust. One great advantage of life in the dry southwest. Suspicious of the spider web that felt familiar in texture and strength, after spraying Raid into the dark and dirty drive mechanism, a Black Widow spider fell out.. with babies. Better to discover her that way, than to infest our garage. Thankfully she didn’t bite my fingers, as I carried the derelict scooter to my car.

Separating the plastic battery box from it’s nest in the frame proved tricky. A reverse order of assembly with the green box slipping out through the frame, between the lower box support rod and frame rail on one side, proved to be trial and error. Only accomplished after removing the various protruding switch, circuit breaker and charge connectors. Steering post followed the green plastic battery box through it’s opening. The wiring was tightly fitted and required a bit of manipulation to lift box from it’s nesting position.

Stripping the frame of components for repainting was relatively simple, after penetrating oil on the axle bolts and various small bolts and screws. Keep the parts in some semblance of order as you remove them. Easier to re-assemble later. Sanding the light rust and scratches from the side frame tubes  took a little time. Fine steel wool smoothed out the rest of the finish in preparation for a repaint to original bright silver metallic. Rustoleum in the bright silver and another can of clear gloss did the trick.

The telescoping steering post is fitted into a slide tube that is not easily separated. Even after all retainers were removed, a plastic sleeve held the top slide tube firm. I painted the assembly still intact. The top and bottom steering bearing cups were easy to pound out of the steering tube using a block of wood and a hammer. Reverse to re-assemble.

A clean frame, wiped down with lacquer thinner, presented a suitable prep for spray painting. The Rustoleum bright silver is really sparkling after the gloss clear is applied. The durability is approved by the clear coat.

Re-assemble is in reverse after cleaning all parts. Chain drive is the system for the e 300. Slight rust was removed from chain by a rotating wire wheel on a drill. Careful the chain does not wrap around the spinning wire wheel. It can fling it out of your hand, inflicting a hurtful experience. For ease in handling during re-assembly, do not lube the chain until after adjusting on it’s sprockets.

Adjusting the tension of the wheel, using the rear facing tension bolts on the axle, leaves a bit of slack, no more than a quarter of an inch is fine. Check tension after riding for a hour. The axle is held firmly in place by elastic security nuts that are difficult to loosen. Reasoning enough to maintain axle bolts in place. Adjust the brake cable after wheel axle is adjusted.

I pulled the sticking cable from it’s housing, to clean and re-lube with penetrating liquid cable graphite. Brake and shifter cables tend to retain water long after they become wet. Leaving cable controlled devices outside, exposed to weather is often fatal. Sun UV attacks many components.

Apply grease to steering headset bearings after cleaning away the dirt. Reassembly is in order of removal. Tighten the large post nuts, leaving steering swivel clearance with no play or loose slop. Not too tight, then lock the large nuts together by countering the compression against each other.

The wheels apparently have sealed bearings that only required a few drops of light oil to ensure their easy spin. The free wheel coaster ‘dog’ bearing on sprocket was dry and required a bit more oil to flush out the dirt from the retaining nut and bearings under it. The large safety nut retainer is tight and does not remove without a special tool.

The rear tire valve requires an extension to access through the sprocket. The valve extension is stored inside the handle bar grip when new. New scooters have a plastic chain guard. A device that is broken away from the protective position on older scooters.

Older scooters have a telescopic fold-able steering post. New scooters use a socket head cap screw set and clamp, to physically remove the non adjustable, non-telescoping steering post. Wheels on older models are cast aluminum. On newer models, wheels are stamped steel. Tire pressure is max at 85 psi with the aluminum cast wheels.

An original high quality used kick stand from Ebay for $8 with free shipping, completed the project. The kick stand protects the nicely finished side rails from scratching.

Cheaper building in today’s highly inflationary market as the predicted erosion of the overburdened/overprinted/indebted US dollar becomes of less value, is required to maintain costs within reason. Now the former derelict e 300 is bright and shiny, upgraded, restored to it’s former glory. All considered, an improved version over the new units lacking features.

The new controller and twist switch (off-on, rather than speed selective) bring it to the level of the new e 300s. A bit of wiring reconfiguration is necessary to adapt the new controller setup. The connectors are not easily compatible. A bit of re engineering, re-pinning and soldering is required. The switch within brake lever handle, ensures the motor circuit is disabled upon braking. Electrical parts are non returnable. Keep that in mind as you order any replacement parts.

My weight (under the factory limit) caused the new controller to shut down on sustained inclines. Apparently an amperage limiter on the new controller, prevents the circuit from overheating. I then swapped the drive sprocket from the new E300 to the ‘vintage’ model. Note: The nut on the vintage E300 is a ‘Right to tight’ elastic lock nut. New E300 is ‘Left to tight’ nut, with reverse lock washer. Both took a small 3/8 air impact wrench to remove the differing sized nuts. Ten teeth on the new model, vs 11 teeth on the vintage E300.

The smaller drive sprocket helped delay the overload and the circuit took longer to shut down. No complete fix. Forums describe the driven sprocket. Factory teeth number 60, on both new and vintage models. A larger (more teeth, longer, extender section chain) driven sprocket will further reduce the load on the motor, while slowing overall top speed. Next attempt to solve the problem.

These scooters sell new for over $200 US. Whether it is worthwhile to restore, is individual preference based on technical skill. Batteries are normally all that is required. Not often does the entire wiring controller and twist switch need replacing. Fortunately parts are easily available. Even upgraded variable speed controllers from independent sources are offered on Ebay or possibly Amazon. My controller parts and batteries all came from Ebay. The faster shipping from US dealers (Denver in  our case) make our process simpler.

The real test is when the grand sons arrive. They stood and stared at the derelict before restoration, large tire model e 300 scooter on the bench, while making humming sounds of an electric motor. Anticipation is sometimes better than realization? They loved both of the E300’s, to the extent that the smaller tire E200 sits idle most of the time. The young boys run time is greatly extended. All considered, the fact that one more mechanical device is restored to serve again, rather than sent to a dump, is satisfaction enough.

Enjoy life in this United States of America. One Nation Under God.


KNIVES in US Society

Having carried countless knives of many types and sizes all of my life, I discovered that in today’s protective nanny society, kids can no longer do that.

I had one time asked the boys, why they didn’t carry knives while in school? They looked at me like I had suggested something evil, and said No Way, they would have been immediately ‘cuffed and stuffed’, for carrying a deadly weapon in school.

Times sure have changed. Every boy I ever knew, including a few girls within ‘Our Culture’, carried a knife to school and Nothing ever happened. No one ever thought about stabbing anyone with them. We played games like ‘mumbly peg’ at recess.  Which included tipping the open knife off various things, knees, elbows, chins, foreheads etc, trying to ‘stick it’ :>)

We threw our knives to ‘stick’ ’em and see who could do it best. We whittled animals out of pieces of wood we carried in our pockets, while waiting for class to start, or just while sitting around with each other… or alone.

We compared any ‘new’ knife with pride, as ‘new’ anything was rare in those days. Hand me downs were far more common. Larry got new boots for Christmas. A knife pocket was sewn on the outer side.

They were the boots he kicked the cats in the dark…Skunks. Those boots stunk for the rest of their life. Larry took a long time to smell like Larry again.

My Boy Scout knife that mom ordered for Christmas, was very special. I carried that for years, cutting myself numerous times until I broke it doing something not very realistic. Every time I see a Boy Scout knife with its Fleur emblem, I remember mom getting that special knife for me. :>)

I had a Boy scout Axe with a leather sheath, from one other Christmas of mom’s discerning intuition. In excellent condition, those are worth a few dollars today. Mine was battered, rusted and thoroughly used, after many camping and hiking trips. I was ‘rough on stuff’. Red Ryder BB gun, followed by mom’s marlin 22, all were sacrificed to the rough and tumble Boy’s lifestyle, along with the knives and other toys of ‘danger’, that my generation by experience, learned to respect.

Today the knife is considered a very irresponsible item for a well protected government programmed boy to own. Back then it was as common, as a dollar in your pocket, is today.

Controlled Society by Design, across the USA of today, has changed into some dis-utopian feel good imaginary dream state, that has far more flaws, far less individual Freedom than ever existed in Mark Twain’s time. Heaven, filled with adventure and knowledge, seems ever more attractive in comparison.

Enjoy life in the United States of America. “One Nation Under God”.

Pack a Knife daily, you will feel better about yourself. :>)

World War II Farming


During WWII the bigger (at that time) farm fields and pastures were surrounding our family compound. Small acreage farmers like us, still used hand swung Sickles, Scythes. ‘Reapers’ cut, hand tied, Sheaved and ‘Stooked’ the standing grain into little teepee shapes for drying. Corn Knives (Machetes) to cut the corn for hand ‘Shocking’ to dry were common, as were hand cranked or treadle operated Corn Shellers. Larger farms used squadrons of Horse drawn Mowing machines for mowing the crops. Hay Rakes pulled by horses or tractors, to ‘windrow’ the crops for drying.

Grandpa, wisely knowing that War was imminent and self providing was going to be critical, bought a 1920’s John Deere tractor that needed overhaul. I watched with fascination, as the only professional machinist involved, the Master Tradesman Babbit Bearing Specialist, poured and hand scraped the bearings. Grandpa did the rest of the overhaul, that lasted for more than 30 years. ‘Poppin’ Johnny’ eventually took the Scythe’s place, pulling horse drawn implements such as Disc Harrows. Spike Tooth Drag harrows. Cultivator. Slip Scrapers.

Side note: All of the equipment came in handy over the ensuing years. Grandpa, life long smoker, eventually lost his leg to diabetes. I took over the farm and maintenance work, as Grandma fielded the phone calls, set the hourly rates and times I could work (school hours came first:>).  Locals seasonally wanting plowing, landscaping. Mowing Hay and weeds was busy and lucrative. Allowed me to save enough for tractor fuel, repairs, new tires and have left over money to buy and maintain a 1941 Chevy at age 15.

Very few other houses were along the graveled rural route. Fuel was rationed, along with most other items deemed critical to the war effort. I rode on Mr Prince’s hay rack pulled by his prized draft horses. After they step on your feet one time, you learn to step lively. My being a young kid, he seemed to me, an elderly farmer back then. He used draft horses to pull his numerous farm implements, even after the war ended.

Field behind ours, was where his cows grazed and where the last old grave stones had been placed aside, left from the abandoned cemetery (previously, old Indian burial grounds). They were along the fence rows, and under the big Osage trees (sticky Hedge Apples, Osage Oranges) where farmer Prince had placed them, along with the countless Laurentide Glacial rocks (field stones) that kept endlessly surfacing in the cultivated fields and pastures. Our old Horse Drawn Owensburo Farm Wagon was pulled across the field each spring and laboriously piled with field stones to point of sagging under the weight.

 School kids had Gaulish styled wars during lunch recess, swinging from the long vines through the Osage trees, throwing sticky green balls, tearing apart a wood pile, while playing King of the Mountain (big kids always won), throwing pieces of wood at each other and getting generally bloody. Until the teachers came storming out to the battleground and made it all off limits :>)

The Army during WWII, had a bivouac with tents, big search lights and cannons on the land behind our barns. They caught me sneaking through the fence and laying in the grass watching them. Two soldiers on guard duty, armed with rifles, picked me up and carried me back to our chicken, Beef and Hog barns. Through the fence, they stuffed me. After that encounter, I only crept back on spy missions when darkness hid my presence :>)

All of the farmers back then, manually ‘Shocked’ their corn in teepees for drying. The Pheasants and Rabbits loved it. There were beautiful Pheasants everywhere. Dad was a Game Warden, so we frequently ate Pheasants that he was ‘checking’ ;>)

They slept inside the Corn and Wheat shocks, as would traveling plains Indians in their teepees. I absolutely loved the John T. McCutcheon story ‘Injun’ Summer’ published every fall in the Chicago Tribune. I read and re-read the story, taking in every minute detail of the images, until I became mentally tele-transported back to that time in history, 1907 :>)

Today’s Politically correct society demonized this wonderful story of a simpler time, 1907, rendering it’s demise.

During the harvest seasons, I wandered the fields, creeping into the corn shocks and napping. The smell of fresh cut corn and grain is wonderful. Winter, I followed the animal tracks in the snow, to see where they were camping. Of course as I got close to their chosen shock of Corn, they lifted off, heavily ‘Drumming’ their wings. I always jumped in surprise.

The big McCormick Deering tractor with iron cleats on its wheels, was abandoned down near the pond for many years (started on rationed gasoline and then switched to more available heating kerosene), was used during WWII, to power the big Threshing Machine that sat near farmer Prince’s barns for long many years.

It had been pulled to the fields by the old McCormick Deering tractor.  Lots of men, larger strong women included, worked the crops by manual labor. After the horse drawn mowing machines cut and raked the crops into windrows to dry, they used pitch forks to load the horse drawn hay racks.

The horses pulled the hay racks. The disabled, elderly and very young people that were still home, (not involved in the war) loaded the wheat or hay onto the hay racks. Usually big women and older men, a few young kids that were big for their age, also pitched hay. The racks pulled up at the threshing machine to be unloaded.

Thresher was powered by a long flat belt to the tractor. It was far back, to prevent sparks from igniting the chaff and dust. The most valuable item to the crews in the fields, were the big steel milk cans filled with cold drinking water, their steel cups or long handled ladles hanging from a wire hook. Some of the thirsty crew just drank from the big lids.

As the Wheat or Oats were separated from the stems by the thresher, it was loaded into grain wagons or trucks, for the trip to the local Grist Mill, to be cut, ground or rolled, depending on crop. Some farms had their own smaller versions. The hay (Wheat grass or alfalfa)  or straw (from Oats), Corn was stored in the Corn Crib, depending on what crop was being harvested, was loaded back onto the hay racks. They were then pulled to the barns, where the winter feeding Hay and Oat Straw bedding was hauled up from the hay racks into the top of the loft.

Big hay hooks were pulled up with a long rope through a pulley in the top peak of the barn. A long track inside the loft, let the load of hay be pulled by a rope through the open top doors, then to the back of the hay loft by two men stacking the hay (later years, bales), as the pull horses backed up to slack the rope.

The greener corn stalks were machine chopped into little pieces and elevated up into the silo by a long screw or chain elevator. The really dry Corn stalks were sometimes thrown into the corrals near the barn to control the mud. Automatic Corn harvesters were later to come. Corn was all hand tied and harvested during the early 1940’s. As WWII ended the early machines began appearing on the farms.

This Corn Picker was one model being used, before the improvement to modern style crop Gleaners began their self propelled, leave no waste, computerized harvesting in common use today. The word Gleaner was used during Biblical times, reference to the poor people that were allowed to follow the manual harvest crews, gathering the leftovers.

Oats for animal feed, were stored in either silos or granaries. Corn Silage was fed to the Cows all through the winter. Raw ‘Squeezins’ seeped out the bottom of the silo as the corn chop fermented. We slurped it up, as it tasted pretty sweet :>) Some locals did a bit of ‘Stillin’, producing ‘Lightnin’. Grandpa, who bottled his own Beer, kept a Mason jar… or few, in the cellar:>) The towed manure spreader with iron wheels, was not fun. It often flung cow ‘exhaust’ cleaned out of the Cow barns, all over the tow driver, as the manure was continually spread across the fields. Modern versions are not much different in function.

The older farm girls, those that could pull a clutch lever and steer, drove tractors as did all farm kids. Older men, bigger boys usually drove the horses that were sometimes harder to control. Once the horse teams learned the routine (they were fast learners), they followed the loaders as they walked in large circles around the fields. The harvest ‘crews’ went from farm to farm, repeating the process for each season, for each crop. Co-Op, Grange, local Farm Bureaus kept everything somewhat scheduled, from planting to harvesting.

As WWII was ending and manufacturing began to increase goods for peace time, the baling machines started to become common and rapidly improve along with new tractors. 2 strong young boys sat on either side of the baling machine, feeding the wire frames back and forth to separate and lace the bales. They wore eye goggles and when they took them off, the boys looked like Racoons, from the constant dirt and dust.

Older men or returning soldiers, rode the ‘racks’ and stacked the bales using hooks as they fed up from the baler. Kids drove the tractors. By that time the tractors were common and the horses were rarely used. Farmer Prince still mowed the hay and alfalfa fields with his big draft horses, as I walked behind hunting for Mice, Birds and Rabbits.

Later when I worked a haying crew, we had automatic Hay balers. Still loaded ‘racks’, elevated bales, stacked lofts in 100 degree heat. Our horses were only used for pleasure by that time :>)

The baling machines disturbed countless field mice and their nests. It was great adventure to run along behind the balers and mowers, catching or stomping mice :>) The old manual labor process left lots of grain and corn for the Pheasants and Rabbits. The hedgerows between the pastures, left them a hiding place to lay nests and for their burrows. I am sure that is all gone now and replaced by yards and houses of families with pavement infrastructure interconnecting the lifestyle.

Simpson’s old world farm was really interesting. I prowled it often. They even let me take insulating cork panels (hauled them on my bicycle over many trips) to line my Pigeon loft in our barn. It was the last ‘old world’ farm near our place. It had the Owl box lofts, built into the high rafters by Mr Simpson the grandfather (when he was a younger man), to encourage many Owls to control the mice and rats around the farm.

That is where I climbed the rafters to the top of the barn and tossed down the young Barn Owls that I initially thought, upon peering into their box, were Monkeys :>) Carried them home in a burlap ‘gunny’ sack.  Mom took them to Hawthorne Melody Zoo near Libertyville.

We went to see the five Barn Owls often,  just to see how they were doing. They really had it good in their nice big enclosure. Fascinating to school children that toured the zoo daily, the always curious Owls ate lots of fresh mice and lived much longer than they would have in the competitive wild :>)