Arctic Fox RV

January 25, 2009

A bit of a crash

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Arctic Fox @ 6:08 pm

If you’ve been trying to access this website in the past month or so, I apologize for the mess. I had installed a plugin (3rd party feature) designed to automatically update the software when needed. Well, instead of updating, it crashed. It crashed hard. And the support from the guy who wrote the plugin was nonexistent.

So after a lot of trial and error (mostly error) I am working on getting the site restored. Please have patience and let me know if you see anything odd.

September 29, 2008

Santa Cruz – Sept. 26-28, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 10:59 am

Some of our friends who have a travel trailer (Jayco, I believe) wanted to go on a weekend camping trip and invited us along. We went to the Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA. Santa Cruz is a bit of a stretch, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

We loaded up and tried to leave before Friday afternoon traffic hit. Tried, being the key word. The girls and I were packed and ready to go but we couldn’t find the missus. Imagine my surprise when I found her in the bathroom dyeing her hair. Thankfully, I’m an easy going kind of guy. We got on the road and since we were late leaving, hit a bit of traffic through San Jose and then more traffic through Santa Cruz. Oh well, at least I remembered to comment on her hair.

Despite “Santa Cruz” in the name, the campground is actually a good 20 minutes south of Santa Cruz. We checked in and were given a map to the campsite. The map was a little bit confusing but we managed to find our spot. It was a very long, narrow paved site. Despite the length, we had to do a bit of maneuvering to get the slide-out opened because the electrical hook ups and water spigot was right about where we wanted the slide-out.

The weather was hit or miss. It rained off and on for most of the weekend. And since our campsite was close to the bathroom, it seemed that we had an endless stream of people walking through our campsite on their way to the bathroom. Other than that, we had a nice time.

The campground was a bit pricey and I feel that they pushed the “Santa Cruz” aspect a bit. But it wasn’t bad and in a pinch we might go there again. For those interested, we saw an EarthRoamer while driving over the Santa Cruz mountains.

August 17, 2008

Wireless Internet

Filed under: Review,Upgrade — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 11:07 am

I run a few websites. Big deal, you say. Well, on occasion, I attempt to access the internet whilst camping. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. I use a laptop (I believe they’re now called notebooks, but to me, a notebook will always be a bunch of paper with a spiral of wire holding it all together. ;) ) Sometimes, the wireless card in the computer isn’t enough to connect to available networks.

I did some research on the internet and came across a few ideas, but nothing that jumped out at me. Then I found an antenna from C. Crane that seemed to fit the bill. They call it a Super USB WiFi Antenna. Looking at the price, it’s gone up quite a bit since I bought mine. Anyway, the antenna is supposed to increase your range from the WiFi source.

Does it work? Yes. Is it pretty? No. The first problem I’ve had is that it’s constructed of plastic. Cheap plastic. It’s starting to come apart a bit. But, it hasn’t affected performance. The antenna has a couple of suction cups on it. I’ve attached it on the upper portion of the window closest to a WiFi source and it picks up the network. Now the suction cups are beginning to fail. R Not much to it, but it works.

August 14, 2008

Mt. Lassen – Aug. 13, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 12:48 am

It was pretty warm last night and it got windy around midnight. Enough that I was worried about the awning. It seemed to do okay though. At 0200, there was a warm, dry wind blowing out of the east and it warmed up to 71 degrees. Not good weather with all of the fires burning in the area.

I got up early so I could get the 6 year old up. She wanted to go play with her friends before we left and made me promise to get her up early so she would have enough time. Other than that, we broke camp. We’ve been having a little trouble retracting the slide-out and today was no exception. The first couple of inches are rather difficult and there’ve been a couple of times I had to give it a nudge to get it moving. I’m not sure what I would do if I were by myself so it’s something I’ll definitely need to look into.

We were on the road by 1100 hours. The campground was pretty much deserted. Traffic was light as we headed down Highway 44 toward Redding. When we hit Redding, it was 106 degrees at noon. That coupled with the non-functioning Dodge air conditioning on the passenger side made for a very unpleasant drive. We stopped at the Flying J in Corning to fill up the air bags on the Dodge and because the girls wanted to eat at the buffet.

Traffic was pretty light until we reached Vacaville. You can always tell when you’re approaching the Bay Area because traffic increases and driver intelligence decreases. It never ceases to amaze me how stupidly some people drive.

We got home and the house was still standing. Although we discovered that our recently rescued kitten is pregnant. I feel bad because I accused her of overeating for all the weight she’s been gaining. We can feel at least 5 kittens kicking around inside her. All in all, it was a good trip.

August 12, 2008

Mt. Lassen – Aug. 12, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 9:52 pm

Our last full day here at the Mt. Lassen/Shingletown KOA campground. The kids spent most of the day swimming. There’s a couple here from Oregon in an Arctic Fox camper on a newer Ford F350. I haven’t had a chance to chat with them yet though.

It was pretty uneventful. However, a 12 year old girl in the campsite a couple of spaces over got burned tonight. I guess somebody tossed a rolled newspaper into their campfire and the rubberband snapped. The burning rubberband flew up and landed on her leg. She suffered a second degree burn but she seemed okay.

Other than that, it was pretty quiet today. The campground is still pretty empty. It was a bit warmer today than yesterday and it stayed warmer later into the evening. It was still 75 degrees at 2100 hours.

We spoke to a couple who had just camped at the Lake Tahoe KOA. I’ve always wondered about that campground. The main drawback that I see is the driveway out onto highway 50. If you’re heading west toward Sacramento, you have to make a left turn across traffic. Eastbound traffic is coming in hot down the grade and there’s a bit of a bend in the road which limits your view. Anyway, the couple said the campground was dirty and nothing compared to this one. Good to know.

Not much to report other than that. We’ll be loading up in the morning and heading for home. Another enjoyable stay here at this campground.

August 11, 2008

Mt. Lassen – Aug. 11, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 11:01 pm

We had a low key day today. We’re still at the Mt. Lassen/Shingletown KOA. It was a bit warmer today than it has been the past few days. It warmed up to around 90 degrees.

We headed into town this afternoon to get ice and have lunch. We ate at the Paradise Grill. Not bad. On the way back, I tried to find a gas station with a working air compressor to fill my portable air tank so I could top of the Arctic Fox tires. Good luck. I learned last year when we were here that there’s no way to get the trailer close enough (i.e. the air hoses aren’t nearly long enough to reach the trailer) to fill the tires. This year I did not better. Of the two gas stations in Shingletown, neither compressor was working. One was even missing the hose altogether. I guess I will have to break down and buy/install a portable air compressor.

We came back to camp and took the girls swimming for a few hours. Other than that, we didn’t do a whole lot.

The campground has really emptied out. I’d estimate that there are only about 6 or 7 other campsites occupied. There was a bit of excitement last night while I was sitting by the fire. A Class C motorhome with El Monte Rental plastered all over it pulled in around 2300 hours. They stopped between our campsite and the office, left the motor running and the headlights blazing. A man and woman climbed out speaking French. They filled out their paperwork, the climbed back in. They pulled around to a campsite on the other side of ours.

The engine was really laboring as they tried to position it. They parked it, left it running and headlight still blazing and got out to inspect their parking job. The man got back in while the woman directed. He began backing and she had to run for her life when he got a little too close. After a couple of minutes of the laboring engine, I heard him release the parking brake. Eureka!

The man and woman got out and began hooking up the motorhome. There were a couple of kids who were out for a brief time. At one point, I heard a gush of liquid hitting the ground and from the man’s giggles, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was sewage dumping on the ground. Then they went inside and turned on all the lights.

I went back to staring into the fire until I heard a commotion from our new neighbors. The man was yelling at one of the children in a mixture of English and French and the boy started crying and yelling “don’t hurt me!” After about a minute, peace returned. But not for long. I’m not sure if they didn’t realize that their blinds were open and all the lights were on or they just didn’t care. Either way, I glanced up in time to see the man walk into the rear bedroom and strip down to his underwear followed by the woman who walked into the bedroom without a stitch of clothing. Shortly thereafter, the lights went out and peace returned to the campground. They were on the road and out of here by 10 this morning.

And with that, I’m off to bed.

August 10, 2008

Mt. Lassen – Aug 10, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 4:27 pm

Well, we’re still here. We haven’t abandoned camp yet. Didn’t plan to anyway. However, as I suspected, our campsite was a bit of a zoo this morning. I woke up early and around 8, the mass exodus began. I lost count of the number of campers, motorhomes and other trailers that departed. They all seemed to park on both sides of our site (we have a corner site) while they went in and conducted business at the office. Some of them shut off their engines while others let them idle. Either way, it sounded like we were sitting in the middle of a truck stop. Thankfully, by noon, the majority of the departing campers had left.

The people in the site next to us decided they had enough and requested to move to a site further away from the office. I cannot blame them. It was easy for them, they have a large motorhome and a few chairs sitting outside. It would be a pain to hook up the 5th wheel and move to a different site. It just doesn’t seem worth the effort and hopefully it’ll quiet down for the rest of our time here.

The kids and I rented banana bikes from the office. That’s what they call them. It’s basically a four wheel recumbent offroad bicycle (actually, since it has four wheels, I guess it’s not a bicycle. More of a go-cart.) I searched around the internet and believe I’ve found the manufacturer in the the Netherlands. Imagine it in yellow and you have what they have here. There’s a bit of a slope to the campground. Downhill is a breeze and you can pick up pretty good speed. Uphill is awful. The girls had no problem heading downhill. I found myself pushing them back uphill repeatedly. I was pretty worn out by the time we had to turn them back in. And the 90 degree weather didn’t help my cause much.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to clean up my computer. It’s running horribly slow. I suspect it’s all of the extra garbage that AOL installed on my computer when I first got it. (Back in the days, I used AOL.) I now use SeaMonkey and it’s been running terribly slow lately. Anyway, back to AOL. I’ve been having to search for uninstall programs buried in various program files. I’ve found several different builds installed on the computer. Apparently, they don’t want you to remove older versions when they automatically install an upgraded version. AOL doesn’t seem to want you to remove their garbage from your computer once they have their hooks into you. Remove this, reboot the computer, search some more, repeat. A real pain. With a little luck, I’ll get the computer tuned up and back up to speed. Or I’ll pull my hair out.

Sidebar: We paid $4.49 per gallon of diesel at the Safeway in Anderson and the Dodge averaged 14.77 MPG.

August 9, 2008

Mt Lassen – Aug 9, 2008

Filed under: California — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 11:54 pm

Well, tonight finds us at the Mt. Lassen/Shingletown KOA. It’s one of the nicest KOA’s we’ve ever stayed at. We discovered that they did a lot of work on the campground between last September and now. They’ve laid new rock throughout the campground and really cleaned up the vegetation. Not that it was overgrown, by any means. It just seems more open.

This year, we have a campsite directing across from the office. I wasn’t overly thrilled about that when we pulled in. It’s on a corner and pretty open. So far, it hasn’t been as bad as I feared.

The weather is warm and pleasant. There was quite a bit of smoke in the air when we came through Redding from the multiple fires burning in the area.

Today, we headed back down the hill to Redding for groceries. We bought most of our meat at our local butcher (yes, they still exist) but planned to buy the basics once we arrived. Plus it gave us a chance to go to Logan’s Roadhouse in Redding. The kids enjoy eating peanuts and throwing the shells on the floor. Anyway, after we had lunch, we went to Walmart to buy a water filter (more on that later) and then we headed for Safeway.

There’s a Safeway in Anderson which is south of Redding off I-5 that has a gas station. I have several ten cent discounts on fuel from buying groceries at Safeway. Otherwise I likely would’ve balked at driving all the way to Anderson to fill up the truck. But with diesel costing as much as it does… We missed to offramp to the Safeway and ended up taking the next offramp. I thought perhaps the road would hook around (Deschutes Road perhaps?) but it didn’t appear to. We ended up in the midst of a wasteland. Not that the land was wasted. The “houses” were. It looked like Sanford and son had moved into the neighborhood. There were 4 or 5 houses that looked like a garbage truck had pulled into the yard and unloaded. The house were we turned around had been boarded up at one time and had a crashed fence in front. As we turned around, a suspected meth addict (if you know the look, you understand) ran out of the house, jumped on a bike and took off like his pants were on fire. Enough of this, back on I-5 and take the correct offramp.

We bought our groceries at the Safeway. There were also some interesting people in the store. I’m sure there are some fine residents in Anderson. We just didn’t seem to run into any of them on our shopping trip. But it was a memorable experience. After buying our groceries, we made our way across the street to the Safeway gas station. The sign said that with a purchase of $50 in groceries, you were entitled to a 20 cent per gallon discount. Apparently my $110 purchase didn’t count. I asked the clerk about it and showed him my receipt but got nowhere. At least I had my existing 10 cent discount and it worked. It’s a sad state of affairs when you get excited that you paid only $4.49 a gallon for diesel. After that, we loaded up and headed back to camp.

Halfway there, the missus asked if she could turn on the air conditioning since it was about 95 degrees outside. It was on and my vents were ice cold. I leaned over and found that the passenger side vents are blowing what feels to be outside air. Wonderful. I’ve been listening to a thumping noise every time I turn on the air conditioning and I suspect from a bit that I’ve read on the internet that there’s a problem with the blend door. Another poorly designed feature brought to us by Dodge.

Back at the campground, on Saturday nights, they have ice cream sundaes for $1 and karaoke singing. And that, my friends, takes place in the little clubhouse directly across from our campsite. The girls went over to have ice cream while I cooked dinner. (I know, a bit out of order to have dessert before dinner, but we’re on vacation, so I guess I’ll let it slide.) And then the “singing” began. It was pretty awful. While I was prepping the burgers and corn to throw on the BBQ, I was able to look out the window and watch one of the singers. She thought she was all that. She wasn’t. It was painful to watch. At least she had a fun time and I thought perhaps I was being overly critical.

The girls came back as I was finishing up the hamburgers. They both told me how awful one of the singers was. I guess I wasn’t the only one….

July 6, 2008

Michelin LTX A/S Tires

Filed under: Dodge,Review — Tags: , — The Arctic Fox @ 3:15 pm

When I bought my 2005 DOdge 3500, it came equipped with Michelin LTX A/S tires. These are an LT265/70R17 tire. They are rated Load Range E which is appropriate for towing my Arctic Fox 5th wheel trailer.

I’m approaching 36,000 miles on them. So what do I think of them? Not much. They’re round. They don’t leak too much air. They get me where I need to go. Not much more. They’ve worn quickly even with regular rotations. I don’t take turns like I’m a NASCAR driver. I don’t launch from red lights with tires spinning in a cloud of smoke. Still, they’ve worn quickly for my liking.

Traction is a big issue for me. Even though these are a highway tire, I (foolishly) expected Dodge to use tires that would be appropriate for a four wheel drive truck. Wishful thinking. I live on a dirt/gravel road that turns to mud in the winter. My sister lives on an even worse road. The highways between our house and hers are often covered with snow and/or ice in the winter. Needless to say, I want a tire that’s going to get me where I need to be.

On smooth dry asphalt, they don’t do bad. But when it turns to gravel, there isn’t much traction. Obviously, this isn’t a mud tire, but I get nervous driving in even the slightest of mud with these tires. Driving through a snowstorm around Flagstaff, AZ was a white knuckle experience. So, I guess if I had to, I’d sum up my review of these tires this way: If the majority of your driving never takes you off a nicely paved interstate in good weather, these tires will get you there. If you see much bad weather or rough roads, keep looking.

May 12, 2008

Magic Awning Wand

Filed under: Review — Tags: — The Arctic Fox @ 11:13 am

I bought my Magic Awning Wand about a year ago. I believe I bought it from PPL Motor Homes, but I cannot find it on their website any longer. No matter, try searching the internet and you’ll come up with many sites now carrying it.

I was pretty happy when I bought mine. It collapses down to about 10 inches long yet extends to 45 inches. It was perfect for unfurling our awning and when I was done, I could collapse the wand down and put it in the top drawer near the kitchen sink (which has become my assorted tool and gadget drawer.) It was much handier than the unwieldy pull rod that came with the Arctic Fox. I was so happy with it, that I recommended it to several coworkers who have RV’s.

Until the last camping trip. It was operator error, but upon inspecting it more closely, I can see how it wouldn’t take much to break the wand. I was attempting to flip the catch so I could open our awning. I hooked the catch the wrong way and as I pulled on the wand, it didn’t seem right. Stupidly, I continued pulling and the wand broke where the handle connects to the upper portion of the wand. There are two holes drilled in the shaft on opposite sides and I believe there were two small pins inserted in the holes. Of course the pins are now missing so I’m not entirely sure about the construction. Suffice to say, the handle is no longer attached to the upper portion of the wand. As I said, I used it incorrectly, but I could see the same results if you had to give a very hard tug to open your awning. Still, I might purchase a replacement and be more careful when I use it. It’s much more space efficient than the non-collapsing rod that came with the trailer. Just something to keep in mind. So I guess this is my review of sorts.

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