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Camping at Mohican

July 23rd, 2012 No comments

Last weekend my girlfriend, a couple of friends and I went to Mohican for some fun camping, canoeing and hiking.  I had never been to Mohican before so it was all new to me and I found myself pleasantly surprised.  I didn’t realize that Mohican offered as much to see and do.  I thought it was just a place to go canoeing!

During my stay we camped in the toy hauler at Camp Toodik on a great campsite right next to the river.  The site was down a large hill from the rest of the park in a less developed ares making it more secluded.  The site was also very wide so we weren’t bunched up against our neighbors.  At night it was very dark as there are no lights in this park of the campground.  It was about as close to being out in the woods as you can get while still having electric and water hookup.  It was nice!

A note for anyone who wants to stay down by the river at Camp Toodik: the road down is rather steep as well as unpaved.  I would not recommend taking your travel trailer down it unless you have 4WD or a dually else you might not get back up!

While we were there we of course did some canoeing.  We also did some sight-seeing in the park, visiting the Gorge Overlook, climbing the fire tower and hiking from the Cover Bridge to Big and Little Lyon falls to Pleasant Hill Dam and back to the Bridge.  Below is a map that shows some tracks and waypoints from our trip.


View Mohican Camping Trip July 2012 in a larger map

Installing a Moose Plow on a Yamaha Grizzly 700

February 5th, 2011 No comments

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This winter after a large snow storm where it took over two hours to clear the driveway, even with a snow blower, I finally got fed up enough and decided it was time to get a plow.  The blower I had was a really old one I got from my parents, most likely from the 80’s.  It works, but not very well.  I could have just got a new blower, but what would be the fun in that?  Plus, for the size blower I’d want it cost about the same as a winch and a plow for the quad and the quad did need a winch regardless so it was an easy choice!

To put a plow on the Grizzly I picked up the following:

  • Warn XT25 2500lb Winch
  • Warn Winch Mount Kit for Yamaha Grizzly 700
  • Moose 60” Standard Plow Blade
  • Moose Rapid Mount 3 Plow Frame
  • Moose Plow Mount Plate for Yamaha Grizzly 700
    Installation is fairly simple but will take some time if you’ve never installed a winch or plow on a quad before.  It was the first time I had and took me roughly two evenings to get it all installed and running.  Knowing what I know now I could probably do it in half the time.  Below are some tips that I learned during the installation that can save you a lot of time if you ever find yourself installing a winch and plow on your quad.


Tips

  • Be very careful not to over tighten the nuts securing the wires’ lugs to the contactor! The bolts on the contactor are copper core and break easily. (Trust me!)
  • The directions tell you to connect the wires to the contactor then to the winch motor then mount the winch to the plate. It’s easier to do it in the following order:
    • Connect the yellow and blue wires to the motor
    • Mount the winch on the mount plate
    • Connect the wires to the contactor
  • Put some split loom tubing over the yellow and blue wires that connect the motor to the contactor before installing the winch/mount plate assembly into the frame of the quad. The wires will be close to or in contact with some sharp edges of the chassis when installed and the tubing will keep the wire from being cut over time. Also, put the red and black wires that go to the battery together through a piece of split loom tubing. This will save you time when you realize you need this after you’ve already put the assembly into the frame and no longer have easy access to the wires.
  • The instructions say to install a wiring harness that is "provided with the ATV" to connect the on/off wire to the ATV’s on/off key assembly. I certainly didn’t get any special wiring harness with my ATV so I connected the wire as follows.
    • Going from the wire harness toward the key are two wire assemblies. One has two wires and a smaller two pin connector, the other has three wires and a large block connector. The two wire connector is actually for the quad’s auxiliary port (cigarette lighter) and is turned on and off with the ignition. The winches on/off wire can be connected to this.
    • With the two wire assembly, shave a small piece of the insulation off the red wire until an 1/8" of wire is exposed.
    • Solder the winch’s on/off wire to the exposed wire.
    • Tape the shit out of the connection or coat the connection with some silicon sealant to "waterproof" the connection.
  • The thumb trigger assembly has a lot more wire than is necessary for installation in the Grizzly however, the ends of the wire are terminate with bullet connectors that plug into the bullet connectors of the contactor so cutting these wires down is not ideal as you would have to re-solder the connectors back on. The Grizzly has enough space to fit the excess wire but you should be aware of where you mount the excess. The area under the hood of the Grizzly is also where the engine’s air intake is. Mounting the excess near the front of the space may block the front intake.

Overall I’m  really happy with the Moose Plow System.  The weight of the blade is good and keeps itself planted on the ground as I push.  The quick release of the Rapid Mount system is great and makes put the plow on and taking it off a cinch!  It also holds very securely, never giving me any problems while in use.  Even after pushing snow into some iced over piles, hitting them with enough force to cause the rear end of the quad to slide sideways a foot or two I never had the quick release let go on me.  The system works great!

I must admit, before I had purchased the system I was slightly nervous about the 60” blade being a little too large since I didn’t have any chains to put on my tires, but the Grizzly in 4WD pushed it along just fine.  I was really happy about this as the blade width is perfect! At full angle it sits just a few inches wider than the quad, keeping my tires from running over unplowed snow.  My neighbor has a 48” blade on his quad and suffers from this problem because of it.  It’s also wide enough that I can clear the long section of my drive in two swoops!  I just put the blade at full angle and it tosses the snow right up and off to the side.  It’s great!  A rough clearing of the drive can now be done in just minutes with a full clearing taking between 15 minutes to a half hour depending on how critical I’m feeling about it.  It’s way quicker than pushing that crappy old snow blower around and a lot more fun too!

If you’re looking for a plow for your quad, I recommend the Moose Plow system.

I’m in a Helicopter!

September 9th, 2009 No comments

Over Labor Day weekend I went on vacation with my beautiful girlfriend to Myrtle Beach, SC and stayed at her condo.  We had a great time going to the beach, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, playing mini golf, eating at Hook’s Calabash buffet, hitting the clubs!  It was a great vacation!  On Sunday though we went ahead and put the icing on the cake!

20090906_0228It was a cloudy and sometimes drizzly day, but we didn’t let that get us down and still found plenty to do.  Late that afternoon we went to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaretville and had a couple margaritas as I would have been mad at myself to be so close to one and to not have gone.  After we left we were both feeling pretty good on the drive home when we approached the airport and saw the signs that had been taunting us all week.

Helicopter Rides!  $20 it said!  We had seen the signs earlier in the week and simply dismissed them, but this time was different.  We had both never been in a helicopter and wanted to go, and with a slight buzz in our systems we decided to check it out.

As we had expected the $20 ride was basically a quick ride up and then down but for a little bit more the rides were much better.  The people running the place then enticed us further with the Labor Day weekend special they were running so we said “Fuck it!” and went for it!

The helicopter was a real small 4-seater, the kind you’d totally die in a crash in.  As we approached the chopper we looked at each other like are we really going to do this?  We got in and the pilot handed us our headsets, introduced himself, and we were off!  The helicopter took right off the ground and moved smoothly into a forward climb.  We reached 700 feet and held then picked up speed reaching 120 MPH.  The pilot pointed out everything as we circled the city then flew over the ocean.  Despite the less than ideal weather, the view was spectacular!  We descended quickly but smoothly as we approached the airport and touched down for a nice gentle landing.  What a great ride!  The experience really made the vacation a memorable one!

Download this Media File – (Right Click)

Yeah I Bought an iPhone

May 2nd, 2009 No comments

Well I’ve gone and done it. I never thought it would really happen, but it did. A little over a month ago I was sucked in and got an iPhone.

Anyone who knows me knows I am by no means an Apple fan. In fact I downright despise Apple and their superb marketing that gets every moron on the planet to buy or at least want their inferior products.  To me Apple has always been about looks over actual Apple iPhonefunctionality.  Yes, the casing of the product does look nice but, the software is crap.  They remove so much of the customizability in order to make everything idiot proof and in doing so they make any advanced operation either impossible or a real pain in the ass.  To make it worse they’ll charge you a large price premium over what are functionally much better products from their competitors. To this day I still hold this point of view however, for one product I do make an exception.  The iPhone is Apple’s one unique piece of hardware that I just have to admit is a great product.

Back when the iPhone first came out I thought, "ohh god another crappy product from Apple that everyone is gonna go ape shit over." As people lined up in front of the stores and hailed it as the "Jesus Phone" my hatred for it only grew (Anyone who camps outside a store to be the first to get any product seriously needs to get a life IMO).  As time went by the hype died down, but the sales continued to climb. It picked up again when the 3G came out, but not to the point where it just plain annoyed me like it did with the first generation.  I still hated it because it was Apple, but after it became the #1 selling phone on the planet I thought maybe there’s actually something to this.  Around this time I was getting due to be eligible for a phone upgrade and the iPhone had been out long enough to prove its worth so I started giving it a look.  I heard about all the cool things it could do and how it actually had a GOOD internet browser on it so I became intrigued.

Up until the iPhone, there had been several "smart" phones before, but none of them really seemed to pull off the portable computer aspect in a way that really worked.  They were all too business oriented containing tons of features that I would never use and while they had the ability to browse the web, their interface for it sucked balls and thus would also probably never get used. If it couldn’t do it well then there was no point in getting it thus for the longest time all I wanted in my phone was the ability to make calls, something the free phones could do just fine.  The iPhone was the first "smart" phone built for the consumer that could not only browse the web, but supposedly could actually do it well!  In fact I had heard it could do a lot of things well so I thought, "maybe this is the first one worth getting," and I started to price one out.

Using AT&T’s site I put a plan together to see what it’d cost.  Ehh.  It’s way more than my calls only plan and I had never really tried the phone out so I couldn’t really justify it so I just let the idea sit.  A few months later everyone on my family plan was eligible for upgrades so I started looking at phones again.  I was pretty set on getting the LG Shine as it seemed to be a basic phone with the additional features I actually wanted so I thought this will be a nice upgrade over the crappy free flip phone I had.  A few days later my buddy then goes and gets himself a new phone. He convinced his parents to buy him an iPhone so of course I had to check it out for myself first hand.  After playing with it for a good 2 hours I was convinced.

I was just amazed by everything the phone could do! I knew it could do some cool things, but I didn’t realize to what extent.  Maps, GPS , weather, news, social networking, and more!  The entire knowledge of the internet in the palm of my hand where ever I go!  This was no meager step up in abilities over a normal phone.  What I was holding was truly the next generation of portable communications device!  It did it all and it did it well.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t want to believe it.  Apple had actually made a good product!

I spent the next two weeks debating with myself whether to get it or not.  While it was an impressive machine, it still did cost a lot.  Cost aside though, there was also the fact that I’d be going so against my stance on Apple products that it felt hypocritical to get one.  But after seeing what it could do, I no longer just wanted an ordinary cell phone.  Anything less would feel like settling for disappointment so I rationalized the decision with this: This platform, the phone, is unique.  One where the normal conventions of what an electronic device should be do not apply.  While truly all that a cell phone really needs to be is just that, a phone, with so many different phones available the definition of what a cell phone is has become blurred.  It is no longer about being able to make calls but about being able to communicate in every way possible.  It’s about being able to cram the ability to do as many things as possible into a single device and the ability to do them well.  When you look at cell phones that way, the iPhone is really your only choice.  A couple of product demonstration videos on Apple’s site later and I was sold.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve had the phone for about a month now and I’m still really happy with it.  It’s great being able to lookup the phone number to anything right from your phone and to be able to get directions where ever you are without having to seek out a computer or Wi-Fi hotspot.  Access to email at anytime is also great and the interface to everything is so clean.  I don’t think I’d ever be able to go back to a regular phone again.

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Yes, Another New Car

December 14th, 2008 No comments

Yes that’d right I did it again.  I got another new vehicle.

The Grand Am was getting old.  Just before Thanksgiving the front left shock spring broke and I was out of a car for the weekend.  The cost of the repair: $240.  I talked to a guy at work and he has a buddy who also had/has a 99 Grand Am and the same thing happened to him then a month later the rest of the springs broke.  Ohh great there’s another $720 worth of repairs to look forward to.  Plus there’s already a looming $600 minimum head gasket replacement repair  that needs to be done and then who knows what next.  I didn’t want to deal with it so I traded it in on a new car.

I picked up a brand new 2009 Rogue SL: Nissan’s extremely popular new crossover.  I got it completely decked out and let me tell you the thing is nice!  It 2009-Rogue-SLhas all wheel drive, heated leather seats, a 6 disc in dash MP3/CD player by Bose with 7 speakers including a small sub, Auxiliary jack for MP3 players/laptops/whatever, XM radio, heated mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror with built in compass, Home-Link (built in garage door openers basically), BlueTooth link for hands free cell phone use,  paddle shifters, keyless entry and start, the works!  The only option it’s missing is the tow hitch.  It’s quite a step up from the Grand Am none the less.

So how does it drive?  Excellent!  The steering is solid with zero play.  The CVT drive train is very smooth and quiet.  In fact the first thing I noticed was how quiet the vehicle is overall.  At an idle you don’t even hear the engine and it’s still not very loud when you accelerate.  Also there is really no wind noise at all, just your standard road noise which comes out pretty soft and dull so it’s very light on the ears.  The brakes are excellent.  The handling is great.  Bumps are smooth and don’t have any tendency to move the vehicle around.  Thanks to the AWD system you can feel the car push you around the corners while accelerating through a curve as there is actually power going to rear wheels versus the feeling like you’re going to slide off the road if you accelerate through the corner in a FWD car.  The vehicle also stays remarkably flat in the corners as well, not having a tendency to roll despite the extra height the vehicle has over a car.  The AWD traction control system also works amazingly and makes driving in the snow effortless.

During my second test drive it was snowing like crazy but, in the Rogue it seemed as though there wasn’t any snow on the ground.  It accelerated off the line quickly using all four wheels without spinning them.  It took corners with speed without sliding.  When I got the vehicle home that night I took it into an unplowed development and went down the street jerking the wheel left right left and nothing!  It just went left right left as if the snow weren’t there.  It also stops amazingly in the snow!  Just for fun I’d slam on the breaks, a maneuver that would cause all four wheels on the Grand Am to skid and the rear end to want to come around if I didn’t correct with steering, and the Rogue would just quickly come to a stop in a completely straight line.  Simply incredible!  I have never driven a vehicle that treated snow that way before.  It is just and excellent ride.

I have to say though the CVT system was quite strange at first.  If you’ve never driven a car with a CVT before you might find it a little bit weird when you accelerate quickly.  Slam down the gas and the engine goes to just under redline and stays there while you keep accelerating.  Rather than the rev up, shift, jerk as it revs up again pattern you get with a geared vehicle, it’s just a constant R.P.M. with smooth acceleration.  It’s quite odd at first but, you get use to it quickly.  It makes for a very comfortable ride but, if you just have to have the sensation of changing gears manual mode is always available.

Overall, I’m very happy with this vehicle.

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