Saturday, May 28, 2016

Overland Expo West

Last weekend I attended the Overland Expo at Mormon Lake, southeast of Flagstaff, AZ.  It was a lot of fun.  It was also very very windy.  At least it didn't rain or snow.

As it was my first time, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  Turns out it's just like all other major conference/exhibits I've attended that were in large convention centers, except this is outdoors.  I was constantly overwhelmed by the number of attendees and the variety of class topics and the gear being exhibited.  It was clear that I am a mere n00b in this arena.  Even watching the other cars arrive and park, I was reallly impressed with the gear that they all have on their trucks.  Gear I imagine that I surely need.

I was also impressed with how very well behaved all the dogs were.  Many attendees brought their dogs and I only saw 2 that were misbehaving.  It was nice.  I was annoyed that some of the people didn't watch out for the dogs.  I watched one man step on a nice Bernese Mountain dog.

I had long chats with the reps at a few booths, including Wilco Offroad, Overland Journal, Moby1, Safejack, Mastadon, ARB, and Magellan.

I didn't drive the Land Rover course.  It looked very tame compared to what I drive routinely.  I wasn't going to learn anything there.

I met Andrew St. Pierre White.  I've exchanged emails with him previously and it was nice to meet the man.  He was very polite and accommodating of all the people wanting to talk with him.  He was also very surprised to have received many gifts of Coca-Cola.  Last year he recorded a video while attending the Overland Expo (when it snowed and rained) and he expressed genuine joy that a stranger walked up to him and handed him a cold bottle of coke.  You see, he's mentioned in some of his videos, while overlanding in Africa, that he likes that soft drink.  So several people decided to demonstrate the generosity of Americans during his visit this year.

Here are some photos, in no particular order.

Here's Scott Brady's G-Wagen build.

This truck drew a crowd of visitors.  It even has a toilet and shower inside!

Here's the Overland Theater just before the start of the talk about overlanding in Baja.  That one was popular.  I discovered that my camera automatically switches to nightime mode and the photo turned out fine.

This is the line for one particular food stall - the BBQ.  It was, by far, the most popular.

The next day I arrived early and got the low-carb plate.  Basically all meat.  It was very tasty, even more so thanks to the hot and spicy BBQ sauce.

If you wanted free food, then Mojoe Griddle was once again cooking up sliders for anyone who stood in line.

Now that you've seen my crappy photos, you can check out the much nicer ones on the Expedition Portal web site:

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Bane of Popovers

I wish there was a search engine that lets me filter and see only those sites that do NOT shove popovers in my face.  I would use that search engine exclusively.  Blocking visitors with popovers is a horrible practice.  There is no equivalent in the brick-and-mortar world.  Imagine you were shopping at Macy's or Home Depot and every time you arrive, or you cross into another section of the store, an employee steps in front of you and demands your attention.  They intentionally block your access and prevent you from doing anything until you perform a magic dance or sing a specific song.  It takes little imagination to see how that would end.

I use multiple ad blocker plugins and still can't stop the popovers.  I have stopped visiting sites that shove popovers at me.  I've removed them from my bookmarks.  All of them are hawking commodity content.  It's all available from their competitors.  The only "value add" they can offer is improving my customer/visitor experience.  So it's strange that they choose to do the exact opposite.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Harvard Sand Dunes

Returning to Los Angeles from a hike this past weekend, we decided to take a detour to avoid some slow traffic on I-15.  We turned off and headed south to I-40 along Harvard Road.  It's a road I drive several times each year.  There's a low section that crosses the (normally dry) Mojave River bed.  That section can be flooded in winter (after storms) and in summer it can be covered in sand.  Then we crested a rise in the road and were surprised to see the road partially covered with encroaching sand dunes.


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Kessler Peak and Teutonia Peak

The weather was perfect for hiking in the Cima Dome area of the Mojave National Preserve, so Luke and I headed there to hike Kessler Peak and Teutonia Peak.  I've hiked them both already, about 10 years ago.  I posted the old Kessler hike here.  We didn't make it to the very top of Teutonia, as the GPS track shows.  I was exhausted, so that didn't bother me.  The Summitpost page for Teutonia Peak describes the various summits and exactly how to reach each one.  The GPS track view below is looking eastward.

We parked in a primitive camp site just east of Sunrise Rock and the Mojave Cross.  I've camped there several times.  It's a nice place to park for hikes because: it's pleasant to sit and rest since you're not adjacent to Cima Road, and there's less chance somebody will break into your car while you're hiking.  Here's a google map showing both Kessler and Teutonia peaks.  

It took us 1.5 hours to reach the top of Kessler, and another 1.5 hours to descend.  It's all off-trail and there's an cactus army blocking your path.

I'm not kidding about the cacti.  They were generous with their spines, surrendering many to my skin each time I got too close.  

Halfway up, here's the view looking up, and back down.

The view from the summit is nice.  You can see the broad bulge of Cima Dome to the west.

Looking north with Striped Mountain, Mescal Range, and Clark Mountain in the distance.

More cactus attacks on the descent.

It took us much less time to hike Teutonia, only 2.5 hours round-trip.  You can see how we explored the granite boulders on the north end.

Here's a shot of Kessler Peak from high on the Teutonia trail.

Many of the plants were in bloom and the air was filled with an interesting mixture of aromas.  One such smell was remarkably similar to cannabis.  I don't know what desert plant smells like cannabis, but it must be growing in that area.  We saw lots of rabbits and, luckily, no rattlesnakes.

All in all, it was a fun and exhausting day.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ice Cream

I had a craving for ice cream, so I decided to get some.  I was standing in the Target store aisle reading labels, comparing the fat content of the different brands.  I chose Haagen-Dazs because it has more fat and less carbs.  Turns out, I like it.  Since I've lost 20 lbs and weigh what I did 20 years ago, I figured it'd be OK.

Well, the brainiac mathematicians behind Target's famous big data operation appear to have me dialed in just right.  When I bought the 14 oz ice cream, the register spit out a coupon for $1.50 off when I buy 3.  So on my next trip, I bought 3.  And then the register spits out a coupon for $1.50 off when I buy 4.  Interesting.

Offended by this turn of events, I buy none on my next trip.  But eventually I succumb to the temptation and I later buy 1 using no coupons.  Then I get a coupon for $1.50 off when I buy one.  Not 3, and not 4, but 1.  

Target is working hard to feed my new Haagen-Dazs addiciton.  I think I may have gained a pound.  A pound of delicious high-fat creamy goodness.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Flyboard Air

This looks like a lot of fun.  Part of me really really wants to try it.  Another part of me is afraid of the thought of stupid people flying around town on these.  They're guaranteed to crash into things, fall onto things, and generally create a serious public hazard.

I suspect that the government isn't going to make the same mistakes they did with RC drones.  They're going to quickly pass laws that make it illegal for the average citizen to use one of these.  They might require a pilot's license (e.g., the FAA Recreational Pilot license).  They may require transponder usage.  They may ban them over populated areas.

Here's the HuffPo article from last month.  Here's the recent Uncrate post.  Here's the developer's page.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Bloody Head Wounds

A couple weeks ago I got my head bashed in.

Some idiot accidentally smashed a car door into my forehead.  Made me see stars.  There was blood, of course.  And I was dizzy for an entire day.  It left a big bloody scar on my forehead.  Sorta like Harry Potter's lightning bolt scar.  Except only one third of the lightning bolt is there.  And I'm not cute.  And I've got no magical powers.  I'm as Muggle as they come.  

I didn't go to the doctor, so I didn't get any stitches.  I figured the scar would add character.  OK, I was just more lazy than vain.

Well, it didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would.  The scar now just blends in with the various wrinkles already there.  Yay.

ps, full disclosure: l'idiot est moi