Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Jeep Project follow up

OK the beast is in the driveway....
Changed oil, oil filter and air filter... these are easy things to do, but like I like to remind Nathan.... little steps, little victories...

Tried to flush radiator coolant..... was a little tricky. I found the valve, opened it, collected old coolant.... Somehow, somebody decided to use pliers to close the valve when asked to... not good, it is all bent and won't go all the way in... it is closed though and does not leak so far... I couldn;t find the block valve to flush the whole thing, it is under a skid plate that I have to remove, but one of the bolt is stripped and that can wait....
Note for myself: READ INSTRUCTIONS in the manual all the way before doing anything stupid

I went to the store and bought a box of fuses and changed all of them.... now the gauges are working, as well as the RPM meter. blinkers are working too as well as the dashboard lights... most of them, i still need to check some of the light bulbs might just be gone (wish it is that simple and not a more profound electrical problem).

Finaly latest victory.... I found out what is the problem with the shifting in 4WD to 2WD. Apparently the Shift linkage thingy (I know I don;t know all the big words yet right ?) is popping out of it's place causing it not to do what it is supposed to do. Well i managed to pry it back in place and shifted all right... took the jeep for a small ride around the block and it happen to shift very good and run smoothly in 2WD.... It popped again out of 2WD when I was coming back. A little search on the net says that it need a rubber thingy (nice word to use when you don;t know) to hold the link in place.... probably a $10 part ....
Anyway I cleaned evrything, and put some penetrating oil on the bolts... tonight if I have time I will see how to remove everything, clean it and put it back in place....

This week end, i will try to take it to the car wash and have an undercarriage wash that might be easier.... and put gas in it and air in tires...

Jeep Project

OK, now, there is no official name code for that project.
For some time I wanted a fixer-upper vehicle to put my hands on and learn to be a home mechanic.
We found this jeep the other day, the engine was running and it was driving somewhat so Karen gave me the OK to get it.... purchase price $600...

It is a 1989 jeep Cherokee Laredo 4x4
Engine is the 4.0L straight 6 MPI and it runs good with 200K miles (apparently this engine is known for lasting long times with proper care and should get another 100K miles without major replacement...)
Muffler is rusty but it is mainly all there.

The Body looks straight, there is only one dent in a corner, and a couple of rust spots.... all superficials
The undercarriage is cover in grim and mud, but no rust that I can see so far....
Sound of it is awesome, you should have seen Nathan's grin when I turn it on....
Carpet and inside looks in great condition even for a 21 year old car.


For the bad parts that are obvious, it won't go in 2WD and has to go in 4L first to go back in 4H.
Brakes are spongy, it might need fixing there obviously.
needs chokes because the parking brake is gone.
has plenty of wires hanging out everywhere...
RPM meter does not work, dashboard gauges and lights ore not working, rear windshield wippers are not working, tires are low in pressure.
Blinkers not working, front right park lights/blinker not working....

So I need to roll up my sleeves and start learning..... very exciting project that will keep busy in the evenings while my wonderful wife is working on a straight A record, I will be working on my straight 6 vehicle....

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scouts visit Utah National guard Armory


http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/ishare/82011602.html

Read the article, I am just adding extra pictures ;)


Monday, October 12, 2009

Scout toujours.... pret


This year we have enrolled the boys in the Boys Scouts of America.
Nathan will join the Troop 1 as a boy scout and Joseph the pack 1 as a webelo cub scout.
Let's see how we will be able to keep up with the schedules....

White Pine lake

Let's not focus on the unsuccessful Elk hunt.... Let's focus on this amazing experience with Nathan.
An hiking trip to White Pine Lake with overnight camping lost in the mountains.

This trip brought us to around 10000 ft elevation.





We packed everything on our backs and headed for the trail that starts at Tony Grove's lake.




After a couple of hours in the frigid morning (walking up the mountain with a flash light by 25 degrees is pretty good), we hit the snow. The trail was really easy at the beginning and as the day light started to make the use of the flash light unnecessary, we were focusing our attention on maybe seeing some wildlife. Finding an Elk now would mark the end of the trip, however, I didn't have much expectation as it seems that elks and wildlife in general tend to avoid areas where i am at. I really need to hook up with some more experienced hunters that will teach me the how and where tricks.


It took us a good 4 hour hike to reach the lake. After numerous breaks, to either fix a back pack or make sure we still had our fingers and toes, we finally reach the campsites.




First things first, we pitch our tent and start gathering wood to build a fire.

It is cold and windy and the ground is a bit frozen. I let you imagine how it is to grab a frozen stone to hammer these stakes down. But when this is done, we can finally sit down and warm up by the small fire and enjoy being in the great outdoors and the wonderful views of this little piece of the mountain that played hard to get.



The sun finally passed the huge mountains surrounding and gives us the opportunity to go take a couple of pictures of the area.





A group of 4 riders came to our site. They were cowboys starting gathering cattle across the mountain. they asked us if there little cowboy rider could come and warm up by our fire that we had just started. These guys are having a tough job....  riding all day up and down the mountain trying to find lost cows....rain or shine. We had a little unexpected chat in the middle of the wilderness.




We had a nice comforting dinner using Nathan's skills to build a cooking fire and grand pa's mess kit that he gave us at Christmas.... One would say Spam luncheon meat and mash potatoes is not a feast meal.... but it was delicious and most welcome. To save our water, we melted snow to make dishes and to get hot water for hot chocolate or other food we had. I'd say if you don't look too close, it is OK but cooking on a fire sure gets a lot of ashes in your food.... minerals right ?

I was kind of handicapped because my feet were wet so I decided to let my shoes dry by the fire.... it is a big no no for next time because the stupid shoes melted down and the sole separated. I was not sure how to fix it and also was worried about the trip back home. Fortunately Nathan was wearing the big mountain boots and his feet were toast and dry so he took care of everything. Including his idea of fixing my shoes by using a red hot piece of metal (aka his pocket knife) to melt down the rubber and glue back the sole.... It did work ....

As soon as the sun passed the mountains it got to really cold temperatures so we packed up everything in the tent and went to bed. Was still day light outside however that was a welcome rest in the comfort of the little green and yellow tent.



We were warm during the night and didn't even feel too much the hard frozen ground under our sore backs.



It snowed during the night and I was worried that the weight of the snow would be too much for the tent so I kept tapping it off. That might have prevented the tent to collapse, but I wonder if the "igloo" effect didn't contribute to a warmer night. And I wish I could take a nice picture of the tent covered in snow.....



It snowed pretty much all the time on our way back. It was hard to get Nathan to get out of bed but I wanted to pack and leave early as i was worried the snow would cover the trail and I didn't really want to get lost... Finally we get packed up and running.... well running, kind of, because that first part of the hike back is a grinder. But slowly and taking numerous break to catch breath we made it to almost the top.... Almost because Nathan couldn't take it anymore and we needed to stop and drop the backpacks to have lunch... or brunch. While snow is melting and water boiling in the small portable stove, we refuel with a pack of mixed fruits. Then we had beef stew (freeze dry food is definitely good) and Nathan finished it off with some Apple cinnamon oatmeal while I was keeping warm with a hot tea


This first part of the trip back was hard especially with wind and snow hitting your face. After that, we were full, warm and happy to go back on the trail.



From there is was really easy. the most difficult part was to stay on the trail as the snow had already covered most of it. But that was just a matter of going down hill and we covered that in record time to get back to Tony grove's and the car where a most welcome pack of red hot cinnamon treats was waiting for Nathan.

There was already quite a bit of snow was already covering the road at Tony Grove's, but nothing that our faithful Santa Fe could tackle....



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Our first "mechoui"...

Mechoui is a way of cooking with fire. The principle is easy. Make a roaring fire, get enough coals to cook a lamb on the spit for 8 hours and then cut and eat the meat...
Easy in theory, a little more tricky to do.
First find a spit and fork spit. Managed to do that with a 8 foot steel rod from home depot, a couple of U clamps and eyed screws and a lot of ingenuity.
We got the lamb from the university herd and got it cleaned and prepared by the USU meat department guys for a small fee. 70 lbs was a little bigger than expected and I still doubt that it was a young lamb.

I left at 7am to joe's and Skyla's beautiful house and started the fire while fixing the lamb on the spit the best I could using wires and stuff.




10h30 am time to put the lamb in front of the fire.... note for next time, put it lower...
and start turning and turning and turning... for 8h (minus the 2 that I had to go back to the lab)
Every body made it to the big "pirate" party and while I was finishing trying to get the cuts for everybody before it got dark, the whole lamb got sliced as much as I could....

Definitely something to do again with some minor modifications. Using wood instead of charcoal, getting a smaller lamb and planning for longer cooking time. Lowering the spit and getting a motorized rotisserie.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes we love Montana

We went back to Montana, but this time we had the kids with us....
This was our labor day week end trip and we went all the way up to Glacier National Park to the KOA in Whitefish Montana. I just love Montana, it is a really beautiful state to drive through.... well at least the western part....

We left at 4 am. Was kind of nice to be able to make the first 3 hours of the 12h trip with everybody else sleeping because after the sun got up, me got a headache trying to ignore the constant bitching from the kids behind me. My fault, I woke everybody up since I was starting feeling tired and needed to talk a bit. Plus the sun raising above the mountains of Idaho was a nice sight for them too....
We stopped for an 1h to have breakfast at "Jan's Cafe" in Lima MT. Very comforting breakfast with huge slices of hams, eggs and hash-browns.... We decided to get the kids the big one too hoping that we could just skip lunch and get away with just a snack until dinner time.


The trip was long, but we obviously made it safe ;) to discover our cabin. Little disappointed by the actual location of the cabin, but ready to enjoy a good week end there.

Rissa didn't take long to assume her watch position.
That is away from everybody else but close enough in case she needs to.... go and hie at the first very strange noise.... it is our four-legged chicken remember....

Kids couldn't wait to go try out these banana bikes, or go jump into the swimming pool, or even go play on the play ground or visit the little pet zoo that they had there.... lamas, goats, miniature horse and cows, ducks and chickens and rabbits constituted a nice bunch of friendly animals. I will let you appreciate the resemblance in hair do between Nathan and this ugly animal.....



I am taking advantage of this quiet time to start preparing dinner. Dealing with a fire that does not want to start, we finally manage to get some chicken and diced potatoes cooked.
After a last walk with the dogs in the woods, we finish this first tiring day with a hot cocoa and coffee before heading to bed.
bin.



 Second day, the dogs are waking me up early (5am) and I decide to go walk them for a bit, hoping to see some wild life too. Return to the cabin, to grab some change of cloth and go take a shower before breakfast while everybody still sleeps.

 Breakfast was good (and not only because it was free or should I say included in the rate).... biscuits, sausage gravy, eggs, coffee, juices, oatmeal, English muffins, toasts..... yes not the most healthy one, but has the advantage to let us plan for smaller lunches.....
This day was dedicated to stay in the campground so the kids would enjoy the pool and other amenities.... Well and maybe not only the kids....


We had an early dinner made quickly this time and sausages and beans were on the menu. Later we decided to go visit the nearby town to have an ice-cream there before the rain. We found this little local shop that had huckelberry favored ice-cream.... huckelberry seems to be all the rage up there and everything is revolving around this flavorful berry.

Back at the cabin, it is raining to much to do anything, so Karen and the kids are playing Farkle while I am enjoying the serenity of the rainy evening outside on the porch. Because let's face it, there is no way I play a game witht he kids.... whatever the game is, it always end up with a cheater, a sore loser (actually 4 of them) and screaming, complaining and it is not goo for my own sanity.





The third day... the big one.
We are going to go to visit the Glacier National park. It is raining and the sky is covered. After the morning rituals.... walking the dogs, shower, breakfast and packing lunch and drinks for the road,we finally leave hoping the sun will come out.
It didn't happen until late but we were en route for a very special adventure.... see the next post for the complete story.
Just to tease a little bit, it has something to do with this last picture....


Sunday, September 13, 2009

A short week end trip to Mirror lake

This Saturday, it was way to hot in Logan. Karen and I took the opportunity that the kids were still in Florida to "Pack the car and leave"

Decision made at 10 am to go to the High Uinta's and camp at Mirror Lake (10 000ft elevation). We left 1h30 later and got there in the middle of the afternoon.
We got lucky as we really took the last available spot at the campground.

After setting up camp, walking the dogs around the lake and fogging the area 20 times to try to get rid of the mosquitoes, we are ready to sit down and enjoy a nice hamburger ..... 
Problem, the fire pits here don't have a grill and we didn't pack one.... Solution ? The shovel that I keep in the trunk of the car... very useful shovel so far, helped me get out of the snow, helped get out of the sand and allowed us to enjoy a hamburger...



After the mosquitoes calm down, the dogs are walked again around the lake, we can all sit back and relax to enjoy Nature....

Pioneer Day May Creek Cabin Montana

There I am a little late since this trip was while he kids were still in Florida.
This year we have spent Pioneer Day in an isolated 100 year old miner cabin in Montana.

We first stopped in a campground at the beginning of the trail since we got there late. After breakfast and packing, we are ready for the 2 mile hike to the cabin, not knowing how long it would take us or how difficult the hike was....
Turned out it was a pretty quick and super easy walk through the woods and meadows. We did not have a watch so maybe this is why it seems so short...


We found our cabin... It was right there after this little bridge, nested in the woods.

While Karen is cleaning the inside with bleach (because of the mice....) I am cutting some wood and the dogs are taking a little nap....


Rissa is our big four legged chicken.... She is scared of everything that makes noises or that is out of the ordinary.... she spent long times hiding under the beds... When we walked at night, if she hears a noise, she runs and sit right behind me.... I think that if she could, she would even jump in my arms....



The cabin was pleasant overall despite the mice running all over the roof and making very strange noises. Not seeing anybody in 3 days, not having cell phone or electricity, TV, PC and other marvels of modern times, was a good way to celebrate Pioneer Day.... I felt like Charle Ingalls cutting wood for the little house in the prairie....

It was a really relaxing week end and I can't wait to be able to do that again.