Friday, February 29, 2008

Ain't She A Beaut!

The weather finally broke a bit and so I was able to get the truck washed and a photo taken. This is our new Dodge 3500. I basically needed to post this for TheBeanTeam. I know everyone will want to see It, because it's so great.

My first few weeks as a diesel truck owner has been interesting. When I traded in our Dodge 2500, I was able to remove all the upgrades I had installed over the past two years. I posted salvaged parts on the internet to see if they would sell. As soon as people saw that I purchased a new truck and had parts, it opened up a new relm of conversation. In my two secret worlds, the truck camper or TC world and the diesel truck (DT) world I am no longer a ¾ ton truck owner that is constantly worried about weight and power. I have moved to a higher realm. My online forum status has changed. I am now a DT person, in the DTC. I have now a new set of buddies or pals within these worlds. They all talk in different letters. SRW, DRW, DTC, Tq?, are used without explanation. They greet you with a smiley icon and a “how you likin your SRW DT? Does your TC fit it well?” Most of the time I put in during these forum visits is extended due to having to figure out what they are saying using these acronyms. The learning curve is extremely high, most of the forum members do little to educate you until you break down and ask for explanations. Of course most of us would rather eat glass then let someone know that you don’t know what a DRW is. It's going to be fun to own my DT, it will help us with our travels with the camper. I just have to learn the language of the Diesel Truck Community.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Survivor Dean

Hill's Resort 2008

The cheers and jeers continued as the players performed animated pantomimes challenging their team mates for answers just beyond their imaginations. Rob glares intensely at me and I shout “You don’t want to know the truth!” a feeble attempt at the line by Jack Nickelson in a Few Good Men. The group erupts in laugher and the boys lose again. That was 1998 at Western Pleasures; last night was a bit different. As the snow quietly fell outside, the six of us crowded around the Sequence board in warm silent concentration. Every few minutes one of us would place a card on the table and then a chip on the game board. More silence follows with a few nods of pensive recognition.

For the past thirteen years our little group of teachers and spouses has met on the Presidents Day weekend to get away and relax. We started in the cabins at Western Pleasures Guest Ranch where we cross country skied, road bikes, chased goats, and got to know Amos and Andy and the ranch owners Janet and Rolly. That chapter of our get-togethers lasted six years and involved many characters. Our guest list started with Raina and Terry Bohanek, Julia and Rob Caldwell, Rick and Terry Wright and the Bennett’s.

The seventh year we changed it up and traveled up to Schweitzer Ski Resort. By this time we had subtracted the Wrights and added Bridget and Mike Bundy. Our visit to the luxury of the highbrow ski resort was short lived and the next year we migrated north to Priest Lake and our final destination at Hills Resort. Four cabins and seven years later the core of our group still meets. The faces have changed slightly but the nucleus is definitely intact.

Arriving on Friday, Linda and Raina made the cabin ready for the weekend. Friday was a day off for Linda and Raina was free to leave early due to her state of unemployment. Raina is retired now, it’s her first year of freedom and she is enjoying every minute. After arriving at the cabin they built the fire and settled in for the two day get-together.

I left work a noon and drove directly north via I-95. I stopped twice on my journey but both were very brief. My first stop was at he RV shop just south of Sandpoint where I looked at their meager RV supplies, avoiding all the racks and racks of snowmobile accessories. After about five minutes I was on the road again stopping only at Starbucks in Sandpoint to get a cup of coffee and a glass of water. I arrived at the cabin, maneuvered the truck around and parked next to Raina’s truck, leaving room to load and unload all our gear. The two ladies were settled in and already laughing when I entered our cabin.

Bridget arrived next and not to long after that we had dinner on and were poised to eat. Dale and Judy found the place and joined us, immediately sitting down to a dinner of chicken fajitas with all the fixings.

Immediately after dinner we cleared the table and gathered to learn a new game Bridget had brought with her. Sequence is a team game where you place chips on a board covering the image of a card that corresponds to a card you have in your hand. The object is to connect five chips in a row of your teams color. On the big list of world’s loudest and exciting games, Sequence would be last. It is a fun game mind you, but to win the game you have to concentrate and out chip the opposing teams. Concentration and strategy plays in to the gamesmanship way above excitement and cheering. In fact we found out that there are penalties in the rules for talking. So our games went on in hushed deliberation.

When the games were finished we all go ready to go to bed. I had to venture out and get something out of the truck. I arrived at the drivers side to find that there was no room to get into the truck. In fact my truck had slid down hill and our mirror was resting against the window of Raina’s truck. It was tight enough that when I got into our truck from the passengers side and folded my mirror in, I could see the window on Rania’s rig flex back into it proper alignment. I quickly went into the cabin and got Bridget and Raina to come out and move their vehicles. Bridget moved her SUV so that Raina could pull down and away from my truck avoiding any contact and possible damage. It all worked out, but we were lucky. I spread sand around the wheels of each rig once we got them parked hoping to avoid a possible repeat of this event.

Shortly after that excitement we put the cabin to bed and headed into our rooms for a cozy nights sleep.

Saturday was spent relaxing and snowshoeing. Our snowshoeing adventure took us along the lake and up onto a lake side road. I made a bit of video while I went. That was kind of fun. On the return trip I went down a steep snow bank and took shots of the lake. As I returned I came across a deer trail and followed it. After about ten minutes I jumped five deer. I spent some time trying to get a good picture of the deer. It was quite the workout for me and I was just an annoyance to the deer. They would scoot around me as I drew near I tugged in circles and then gave up. Back at the cabin I cleaned up and we got ready for the evening.

We had a wonderful dinner followed by a rousing, yet quiet, round of Sequence. The events of the day had tired us out and we were all in bed by 10:00 PM.

Morning brought a group breakfast and the ladies went for a walk. After that we all had to pack up and head back to Coeur d’Alene. Every year we look forward to this weekend together, it’s sad to have it end. We always enjoy catching up with our friends. Reservations have been made for the same weekend next year. It will be fourteen years in 2009; I’m already looking forward to learning a new game. Hope it is louder then Sequence.

Monday, February 11, 2008

On the way to work this morning.

I stopped down by the Spokane River at the Mill River area and took this picture. I have not adjusted any of the colors, I just cropped out some of the condos. The colors were very intense. Not sure why it is a bit blurred, wish it was sharper.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Header Picture Explanation

Spanish Wells, Bahamas looking South. Historically, the island was used as a last stop for Spanish ships returning to Europe, where these ships refilled their water supply from wells created for this purpose - thus the English name of the settlement: Spanish Wells.

Kobi and his grouse. We use a grouse because it is painted white on the stomach side and it's back is a lighter coloring then the duck decoys. He can see this bird better in the water and that makes it so he doesn't chase after the live ducks if he gets confused.

Google Gadgets and More

Remember when I said I was obsessed with this blogging thing? The obsession continues. Yesterday Alex, (OWL X of Team Harris) showed me a couple new side bar gadgets, one is the weather and the other is a ditty that tells me which sites canyonwren has been posted as a link. We’ll see if we like these two items, they may change if I don’t think they are useful or operate properly.

Next I got to playing with the header picture that I developed a few weeks ago and I think I have it the way I want it. You may, or may not have noticed that it changes every so often. This will be something I will try to do to improve the site so that when we are not adventuring, like now when we are covered with snow, I can change the site slightly to make it so people want to visit more often. You can scroll down to the bottom of the blog on the right and see a little box of text that tells about this header adventure. Follow the link and it will take you to the post explaining the header picture posted if you want more information about it. I will post the explanation of this picture next, that post will become the ever changing post explaining the picture. That’s a lot of words don’t you ting? No more COFFEE!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

From Here on Out It's the Green Pump.

For once I feel like we got a great deal on a new vehicle and at this point there are no regrets. Here is the story in a very condensed time frame. Thursday I was searching the various used car web sites and came across a 2005 Dodge 3500 SRW Diesel Long bed. I called and talked the salesman I know at the dealership and he assured me that it was a very clean truck with only 33000 miles on the engine. Linda and I talked and decided to put some money on it to hold it till Saturday when we could get over and inspect it. I hung up and we started the research checking Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. We got all the figures together on the new rig and on our existing Dodge 2500.

We drove over to the dealership, looked the truck over and drove it. It was real nice! The color was exactly the same as our present truck, in fact everything was the same except the interior color, black, it was a long bed, and was a diesel. Our truck was a 2004 with 55000 miles on it so we were gaining in that respect. The long bed was a big plus. This will allow us to move up to a larger camper if we want. If we don’t move up to a more spacious TC it will allow me to bring the center of gravity of our Northern Lite forward, providing more stability and a better ride.

Looking the newer truck over we decided to try to make a deal. It was almost too easy. The dealer came down in price, not as much as we wanted, but they came down quite a bit. Our next plan was to make sure we got what we wanted on our trade. Blue book told us it was worth $19000, they offered us $18000, and we took it! We were not ready to sell our truck at this point and so I had not put the tailgate on it when we left the house. We struck our deal and drove home. Prior to making the deal I talked to our dealer and asked it would be alright to remove the items that I had installed to improve the ride while the camper was on the truck and he said go ahead.

On Monday I took the truck in and had the Rancho Shocks exchanged for the original shocks, took off the trimbrens, remove the Supersprings, the swaybar and finally the camper tiedown system. If figured that was over $1000 of parts that I can either use on the new truck, if they fit, or sell. As the miscellaneous parts came off I kept the salesman informed on the progress so no one at the dealership would be upset. It was no big deal to them; I guess they just wanted the stock truck anyway. I put the tailgate on and was ready to make the vehicle exchange.

Tuesday I went to pick up our new truck and when I got to the dealership, they could not locate it. My salesman said that it was right out front all last night because he worked late. I kept an eye on everyone and they were all meeting and whispering, sometimes pointing. A manager came out and I was asured things were alright. After about an hour they located it in the shop. From what I gathered, two other people had put money down on the truck. They do this just in case our deal were to fall through. We had the first bid, but the salesman for the people who were third in line jumped ahead and sent it into the shop and had some major accessories installed. His buyer was going to use the truck to pull a fifth wheel and so they installed an electric break, some electrical plug-ins, one other item that I didn’t really understand, and finally a Hidden Hitch system. All this had to be removed. If you are familiar with a hidden hitch, you will know that to install it you have to cut a hole in the center of the bed of the truck. Obviously they could not fill the hole, so I now own a truck with a Hidden Hitch system and some electric plug-ins. The parts installed came to over $1000 and we didn’t have to pay a cent. I believe the new salesman is paying for the Hidden Hitch system. If we ever sell the truck, I’ll be looking for a fifth wheel hauler to sell it to.

That was our excitement for the week. A new truck, a good deal and $1000 in extras; we are a happy couple. We will now do a few improvements to the new rig. I want to add Tork Lift tie downs, possibly some air bags and that should make it complete. Some of the parts I removed will work on the new truck and I'll put them back on. If they don't fit, watch for my posts on Craig’s List, or other areas. Make me a deal I can't refuse! This was a very positive experience purchasing a vehicle, wow, I never though I would ever say that.