Rough days

The next couple of days won’t be so fun for me. Tomorrow we pull into our home port of Seattle, Washington and all of the folks from the office come down to poke and prod us. This is my least favorite thing about this company, and I feel like venting a little bit to no one in particular.

What’s hard about working at sea is that there is a complete disconnect between people on the ships and the people who oversee them. It’s very hard to know what someone is like when you only talk with them via email. Body language is such a huge part if communication and it is completely gone in today’s world. The thing is, I have no idea why these people are the way they are, I have no reason to dislike them, yet still I do. I’m sure that there are many things that go on in Seattle or New York, and I have absolutely no idea what they might be, because I only see the trickle down of it. Still, it’s hard to be in my place and not question it all on every level.

The problem I have at this point is that not only do I have a feeling that this company would not ever help me to advance in my career, but I also have little doubt that I would be replaced instantly if they could do it. I have a little bit of security in that I can do this job, and I can do it well enough that no one will come along and make me look bad. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s not beneficial for me to stay here, though.

The real problem is that these people lie to me, and I really can’t handle it. They are horrible actors, and that makes it even worse. Maybe I just want the lie to be sold better or something. No doubt, they are just “selling” the story to the crew that some executive or committee told them to, but I just wish they would have thought it out a little better. Or maybe what might really work is being honest, but that’s probably not going to happen.

So I pose a question for you, my dear reader. What would you do about it? Do you avoid these people at all costs, smiling and moving quickly along in their presence? Or do you confront them and tell them what you think in a constructive and non-combative way?

The soul of an adventurer

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I can’t explain the way I feel right now, and it frustrates me. I’ve gotten to a point in life where, once again, I feel like I have to make a decision based on what other people are asking of me. Based on what other people think I should be the sno-cat dangling over the crevasse, so to speak.

I can’t say that I feel like I’m ever going to be a Scott Brady, Ted Simon, or Captain Cook. I don’t have a charming way of writing or picture taking that people can’t live without, nor do I have an unlimited fund to draw from to finance my travels. What I can say is that I have the soul of an adventurer and there is little that I can do to make it go away.

The good thing about life is that it doesn’t really matter. I’ve found that what matters most to me is doing what feeds my soul and keeps me from the dark side of life. I have an issue with complacency, I just can’t tolerate it any more. For many people a normal day and a normal routine is fine, but I really struggle with it. Some thing in my genetic make up has me constantly looking for something else to do. I need to have surprises or I get bored.

Sure, we can go on and on about boredom and about how a smart man is never bored, but I’ll tell you what, if I do the same thing over and over more than 30 times I can’t recover. The boredom just comes.

So, what I want to do with my life is pretty simple. I want to keep writing my crappy blog that only my Mom reads (thanks Mom!), keep taking pictures that are fair to midland, and most of all, I want to keep doing things that keep the spirit of adventure in my soul. I don’t think that’s to much to ask, is it?

Mounting tools in an open SUV

Mounting tools to keep them from flying around can be quite a task. We don’t often think of how to stow the things we bring, but we aught to.

Quick Fist has been around a while, and they are proven to work. Many fire departments and overlanders have them on their vehicles these days.

Kit contents include several sizes to use on various goodies in your vehicle. One pair for a mag lite sized object, two pairs for shovels or axes and one pair for a fire extinguisher or CO2 tank.

As I get more items mounted in will show you, but for now my max axe is hanging out real nice back there.

Black Rock Desert

Camping at Trego Hot Springs is a treat, and the wake up bath is the cherry on top. Black Rock is one of my favorite places to visit, and I doubt that will change any time soon. The place is huge and even though I’ve been there a few times now I haven’t seen much of it at all.

We were lucky enough to have a little storm roll through in out presence. It was quite a sight to see. First came the sand storm, and winds up to 30 mph, then the rain came. It’s was a show that no man could duplicate.

This website is a great resource for anyone heading out to play. There are a few others, but this one is so extensive you probably don’t need the others.

Dual Batteries for the 4runner, part 2


When I installed dual batteries on my last vehicle I used a complex system that monitored voltage and did a bunch of things that essentially didn’t really matter to me. After a while, I never really knew when it was working or IF it was working. It did always seem to be working, but I decided this go around. While it may be a hindrance at times, I feel that having a simple set up that can be bypassed easily is what I want.

Battery box location for the aft battery was something I put some serious thought into. The problem with these 4runners is that there isn’t any room for extra stuff under the hood, and there isn’t much room anywhere else, either. In the end I decided to take the easy road and the box got mounted to the deck just behind the the back seats on the passenger side. My main problem with this is that it takes up cargo space, but for now it works. Later down the road I may end up moving one or both batteries underneath the vehicle.

While doing this install I had a hard time deciding what batteries to use and where to put them. After a bit of surfing the net I found a few good write-ups on these Die Hard Marine batteries that are made by Odyssey, but they are considerably cheaper. Since the optima fit in my battery box better I moved it aft and put the Die Hard under the hood.

Power inverters sure do come in handy some times, and I had this one laying around anyways. It’s rated at 800 watts and over the years has been a solid performer. I mounted it on the back of the back seats, because most of its use will be for DVD players and games for kids while on long road trips.

The piece of mind that comes from having two batteries while out in the middle of no where is quite a relief. Having a system that allows one battery to handle starting the vehicle, while the other runs accessories and can back up the starting battery is a major upgrade that anyone who travels in the back country solo should do.

Warn XD9000 Winch

I’ve owned this Warn Winch for quite some time now, and it’s always been a solid piece of equipment. This will be the fourth vehicle it’s been mounted on now, so that proves why Warn winches are such a great product.

The winch mounted up with a new hawse fairlead is ready to go into service at a moments notice. For the solo-trekker like myself, a winch can be a real life saver. I plan to do some “how to” articles on winching and vehicle recovery soon, so keep an eye out for that.

Joshua Tree National Park



When I realized that I would have a couple of days off in the middle of a week-long class in LA, I decided to go do some exploring in the desert. The three obvious choices were the Mojave desert, Joshua Tree National Park and Anza Borego State Park. Since both Mojave and Anza Borego are so big, I decided that the two days off I had would be better off spent at the smaller Joshua Tree.


Luckily for me, the park is a total gem. I ended up getting a camping spot in what I think is the best campground in the park, White Tank, mostly because of getting there early in the day. Campgrounds fill up fast! This one is a dirt road and no RV type, which suits me more than fine.

After checking out the forests and rock formations in total awe I drove down the “Geology Tour Road” and did a self-guided tour. Winding through trees and rock formations, then down into a dry lake bed, this road and tour had a great view of the best parts of the park.


Back at camp, as the sun went down the tripod and shutter release came out. The rocks and Joshua Trees are even better under the stars, and I believe that some of the best pictures I took were at this time.

Wildlife was pretty scarce on this trip, about the coolest animal that crossed the path was a kangaroo mouse, followed by a cactus wren. The wildflowers were still blooming and bright, which was a nice surprise. Mostly yellow and blue but I think the red flowers on the cactus bushes along the way were by far the prettiest.

I didn’t get a chance to make it up to any of the abandoned mines on this trip, so I guess that means I’ll just have to come back again. If I do, it’ll probably be the same time if year, because the weather was perfect.

Dual Batteries for the 4runner, Part 1

One of the issues that I’ve had recently is battery management on my vehicles. Because I am gone for periods of time, I have problems with batteries being drained while my vehicle sits parked for months on end. In the past I used an expensive battery controller that shut down power from one or both batteries, but this time I decided to take a lower tech route.

For this project I installed a simple Guest Battery Switch, allowing me to run one battery, or the other, both, or completely isolate the system all together. The good thing about this is that it’s simple to do, I literally had the the switch mounted and wired into the existing battery in minutes. Taking the wires from the positive battery terminal and moving them to the terminal on the switch labeled “common”, then running a wire from “battery 1” up to the existing battery.

In the next part of this article I’ll mount the second battery and wire it up to the “battery 2” terminal on the switch. Finding a location to mount the battery being the tricky part.