This photo has nothing to do with South Africa

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It was, however, shot with my Lomographic Fisheye 2 camera; that camera is now in my bag that is going to South Africa with me. I loaded it with some expired Fuji film and I’ll use it for some interesting images that I see there.

I also have a dSLR of course for everything else.

I wont post for a bit, but when I do… should be lots of cool stuff: or first 5 days or so will be in the Kruger National Park.

EDIT: this photo was taken in Alamosa, CO of a late summer/early fall storm brewing. That is the water tower in north Alamosa near the new high school.

The Tools I carry

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When I was a kid my dad had a black tool box with all of his automotive tools in it. I remember it being heavy. As I grew up, I went from not being able to pick it up, to being able to get it a couple of inches off the ground and basically drag it. Even when I was an adult, it was a load to pick up… right are being pulled down, left arm out for balance…

It wasn’t the box itself that was heavy, but it was all the shit he had in it. Wrenches, sockets, ratchets and drivers, screwdrivers, more sockets, 1157 light bulbs, fuses, pliers, bolts, nuts. It was all thrown in there. Looking for a 3/8″ drive 1/2″ socket? Good luck with that.

I always worked more on cars than my dad, so when I moved out I started gathering my own tools. And of course, I got a huge toolbox. Plastic though. And it’s still heavy because of all the stuff I throw in it. No light bulbs, bolts, or fuses though: just tools. This thing has survived being thrown in the back of various Land Cruisers, my wood truck, and dragged all over for different projects.

But, I never really gave thought to what I carry. It’s just a hodgepodge of tools I’ve bought over the years and stuffed in there. In 2012 SA4x4 (a very cool 4×4/Travel/overland magazine from South Africa) ran a contest called “Adendorff Toolin’ Around Challenge” where readers sent a pic and description of the tool kit they carry.

Interesting. I then decided to clean, organize, and catalog my tools. I’m changing to a soft bag by Bucket Boss (it fits into my drawer system because it’s more compact and can be squished).

This is what I carry with me:
in metric and standard:box wrenches, 1/4″ drive, 3/8″ drive, and 1/2″drive sockets
ratchets and extensions for each drive
two different size sparkplug sockets and a sparkplug gap tool
three different needle nose pliers
three different sizes of Vise Grips
two sizes of Crescent wrenches
wire stripper/crimper
snap ring plier
13mm/14mm line wrench
OBDII Reader
Allen keys
various screw drivers including electrical

I also carry zip-ties, electrical tape, duct tape, butt connectors, fuses, and small things like that. A few tools I like are brushes (wire, plastic, brass), 5-in-1 painter’s tool (can use it for scraping gaskets, etc.), box cutter…

I know I need to get a Torx set (the UZJ100 has those), replace some Allen keys, add a lighter and some shrink tube too…

I think it’s smart to know what you have and need before headed out; it’d be worth organizing your tools (I know that I need to get another wrench tool and a couple of tool rolls).

What tools and other odds and ends do you carry?

Del Monte Premium Bananas! Well, not in this box.

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“Banana boxes may sound like a joke but I copied the idea from a German veteran whose boxes were on their sixth African outing.” — pg 242 of Chris Scott’s “Overlander’s Handbook.”

On our last camping trip, my wife and I talked about ideal storage containers. We had used some milk crates on one trip only because I was too lazy to move items to better boxes. This time, everything was in an Igloo cooler (I stored it in there to save space in our small city apartment–and I was too lazy to transfer it and we had a smaller cooler for food). Natasha likes something that is kind of open so that she can see what’s in them and was wishing we had used the milk crates. I like that the cooler’s dimensions were better than a milk crate, allowing things to fit better. But, at the same time, the cooler was a bit bulky…

We talked about ammo boxes, Rubbermaid Action Packers, etc. I kept thinking about the brief paragraph in Scott’s book. I always laughed at that suggestion, even though I know that banana boxes are tough and free. They have good handles and coule probably be lashed down fairly easily. Since we can get clean ones at work, I brought one home and we’ll get a couple more to try.

These will be for kitchen supplies and such; the drawer system will still be used for heavier items that don’t leave the truck often (recovery gear, spares, etc.) And when we go to South Africa, we’ll look at dedicated ammo boxes and see if we think that the banana box is better.

Portland’s Rose Garden in Washington Park

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Last Wednesday, we left Seattle in the Land Cruiser and headed south toward Mt. Saint Helen. We found a spot in Cougar Park & Campground right on Yale Lake ($20 for the night, showers, flushing toilets, good fire ring, clean), slept there for the night, and drove into Portland, OR the next morning.

We went to the Rose Garden there in Washington Park. It was the first time we had made it in the summer when roses were still in bloom. If you haven’t made it here, it’s a must see. The rose are stunning and the names are super colourful (like California Dreaming, Neil Diamond, Betty Boop, etc.)

Take a good camera, a macro lens would be best (unfortunately I didn’t have a macro).
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More things to think about on buying a RTT (there is a reason tents are on my mind)

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We camped out of the truck again on Wednesday night near Mt. Saint Helen. It was hot. Muggy. Sticky. Well, for the PNW anyway. Luckily, I have screens that pop into the rear passenger doors; it allows air to flow through and keep bugs out; but even with those in, the interior of the truck was pretty warm.

This brings up the importance of climate and where you plan to use your tent. For us, a tent does have to be able to handle the drizzle that Washington and Oregon can put down. But, because both my wife and I hate heat (and my wife tends to run hot anway), good ventilation/airflow is important. To complicate matters more, we plan on some long trips that have us in varied climates. Cold weather is probably the least likely we’ll see (say, 27*F and below): rain, heat, and even wind will be issues.

But, without being able to look at tents (there are no dealers close by me that have a showroom), we’re not sure which direction we’re leaning. Some tents have a stargazer option that opens the top with a bug proof screen allowing you to see the night sky (and I presume it helps keep the tent cooler).
We’ve ruled out a hardshell tent (for different reasons, I’ll talk about that as we go through the process of buying this expensive item). Any recommendations or tips are greatly appreciated.

Now, the reason I’m really digging into the subject now is my wife and I are headed to South Africa in a few weeks. That means we get to go to many showrooms and actually look at various tents from Hannibal, Howling Moon, and Eezi-Awn. Talking to overlanders there and seeing tents in action will help narrow our wish list.

I have looked into bringing one back with us (the Dollar to Rand is in my favor), but air cargo back (including duties and all that crap on the South Africa side) is about $650. I’m still not sure if it’d save us money doing it that way or not. We’ll see what we find while we’re there…

Taking a crap in the house of wasps (a review update).

Poetry Overland:

Just a quick update on this product:

Originally posted on Poetry Overland:

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(a product review)

“It’s full of bees,” my wife said. We had just woke up and I was starting to get set up took breakfast on the tailgate of the Land Cruiser.

“What?”

“The toilet, it’s full of bees.”

“They wont bother you,” I said and shrugged.

She popped out of the tent a moment later, “I can’t do it. Not with them in there.”

One of the purchases that we made to make camping out of our Land Cruiser easier was a privacy tent and a portable toilet. The tent itself came from Privacy Pop-Up. It isn’t super heavy duty, but the quality isn’t poor either. The toilet is just a smallish toilet seat on folding legs. It catches your waste in a bag (yuck) or you can dig a hole under it (better) and then cover it all up when you’re done.

I will have to evaluate…

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