Saturday, December 26, 2015

4WD Lust

I must be twisted because I like this rig.

I realize it appeared at SEMA a year ago, but I only recently stumbled across it.  I don't like the bright color, but I like the ground clearance.  I assume the spare tire goes on the roof rack.  That's got to be a pain to lift and lower. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Zion Snow

Here are a few photos I took while hiking in Zion NP last week.  The snow from a recent storm was lingering on the north facing shaded slopes, while the south facing slopes were mostly dry.

Most of the pools on the Many Pools hike had a layer of ice on top.

I really like my new camera, the Sony DSC-HX90V.  It has 30x optical zoom and it zooms much faster than my old Lumix cameras.  Also, the LCD display doesn't seem to be polarized, so I don't have to remove my polarized sunglasses to see the image.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 LR4 Without Running Boards

Several visitors to my blog have enjoyed reading about how I removed the running boards from my 2015 Land Rover LR4.  One such reader has asked about the vehicle's appearance with the running boards removed - prior to installing any rock sliders.  Luckily, I have a few photos to help illustrate that case.

I had mentioned in my earlier post that when the rocker panel trim is reinstalled (snapped back into place), the body panel is slightly visible where the trim has factory cutouts for the running board mounts.  This leaves a small sliver of body panel visible, mostly when you are viewing from a low position (crouched), or from a greater distance.  That sliver is more visible if the body panel paint contrasts with the black trim.  This is the case with my red car.  I don't think this would be noticeable to anybody except the most observant LR4 fan.

The photo above shows those trim cutouts, as seen from below after removing the running boards.  Those odd heat sinks are more visible than the exposed body panel sections. 

Here's a closeup of that last image, with a better view of that sliver of red body panel.  

Those sections of body panel appeared to have the same exterior finish and treatment as the other body panels, so I am guessing that they are equally fine with exposure to road grime, etc.  When viewed up close the body panels aren't visible, as this quarter view shows.

I don't have any photos with the doors open.

The heat sinks are not visible with running boards or rock sliders installed.  UPDATE: Apparently the aluminum parts that I've been calling heat sinks are not heat sinks, and are meant to function as crumple devices in conjunction with the OEM running boards.  This is the group wisdom from LR forum users, who also indicate that these can be removed after removing the running boards (aka side steps).  They do appear designed to carry loads from the running boards to the frame.  Since I failed to remove them, maybe they'll work similarly for my sliders.

Monday, December 21, 2015

La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX Hiking Shoes

I just returned from Zion NP where I was able to try out the new hiking shoes I just bought: La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX.  I needed to replace my old pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid height boots that are falling apart.  I wear those for light hiking and off-roading.  Having read some great reviews of the La Sportiva Synthesis, I decided to try them.  At $180, they're not cheap.  I bought them from REI, so I'd have an easy-peasy return if needed.

So far, these are great.

I wore them on some short hikes in snow, slush, and on sandstone slickrock.  Even trudging through short (1 foot deep) snow drifts, my feet never got wet.  The thin plasticy uppers have little thermal insulation and my feet got a little cold on a few hikes - but to be fair, it was 30F then.  When it warmed up to over 40F, then I was fine.  I like the fast laces.  These shoes are very comfortable.  Enough so that I can wear them all day - I've been wearing them for several days now.  The uppers don't provide much support and my ankles were flexing a little more than I'd like while crossing some very irregular terrain.

The soles are very grippy, with plenty of traction.  That's something I always need since I like to hike on steep slopes.  The Vibram soles have something called an "Impact Brake System" which the La Sportiva web site describes as: "A proprietary technology in outsole design where the lugs of the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions.  This opposition increases braking power by an average of 20% and decreases impact forces by and average of 20%."  The card that came with the boots says it increases traction by 20%.  

Whatever it is, it seems to help.  I tested them on some very steep slickrock; the southern slope of South Ariel Peak.  I was amazed at the grip.  I simply walked right up the slope.  I've owned very few shoes that can do that without slipping.  Here's a photo looking back down toward the road and my car.

I think these will be perfect for my light hikes in the desert.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Cadiz Dunes

It was sunny yesterday at Cadiz Dunes.  A bit cold, but sunny.

The dunes are only about 10 miles south of Route 66 off Cadiz Road.  Unfortunately, that 10 mile section of Cadiz Road contains more washouts than any other section.  A few of them are pretty bad and other drivers have created alternates around the worst parts.  You need high ground clearance to safely drive down that road.

The 2 mile spur out to the dunes was a bit sandy, but not too deep (less than 5 inches outside the ruts).  If you go here, then just drive fast.  Remember: momentum is your friend.  Right up to when it abruptly introduces you to a big creosote.

Here are a few photos I took.  I'll skip the many I took of fresh animal tracks in the dunes.  I got distracted by those for a while.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Book Reports

When I write blog posts about books I've read, it reminds me of writing book reports when I was in grade school.  I never liked writing those.  So I always try to write a blog post that doesn't sound like a book report.  I'm also well aware that I am not a good writer, and any book I describe has plenty of published reviews by talented writers.

This leaves me retreating to fundamentals, and I ask myself: Why am I writing the blog entry? What am I trying to communicate?

Then I try to boil the answers down and focus my blog post on that target.  Problem is, then it might simply read: "I like book.  You might like book."

Wow, do I ever over analyze things.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Ready Player One

One year ago I posted about a book I'd read and really enjoyed: The Martian.  The film adaptation was under deveopment by a famous director and went on to be a blockbuster hit.  Today I recommend another book that is similarly being adapted to film by a famous director.  I predict this one will also be a big hit.

Ready Player One is set in the year 2045 and life is bleak for most people after society has deteriorated due to global exhaustion of natural resources.  Most people spend their lives online in the OASIS, a virtual reality environment with thousands of worlds.  The OASIS has permeated society so thorougly that most businesses operate in the OASIS.  Wade Watt attends virtual high school in the OASIS.  He spends all his spare time trying to find an easter egg hidden by the OASIS creator.  So are thousands of other people.  The one who finds the egg will inherit control of the OASIS and a vast fortune.  After years of fruitless searching by so many people, popular interest in the global hunt dwindled.  Then Wade was the first person to solve the first puzzle and find the first key.  His life was changed forever after that.

The film version is already under development for a 2017 release and will be directed by none other than Steven Spielberg.

I listened to the audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton.  Oddly, Wil Wheaton is actually in the story, described as an old geezer running in the online elections for OASIS governance.

I really enjoyed this book.  I'm not a gamer, but I do recognize most of the 80's era video games and cultural references.  I'll probably listen to this audiobook several more times.