Off-road tips that might actually be useful! Gear you might want to buy!
GPS Global Positioning System by Jerry Dupree
Technology changes so fast I can’t keep up with it. I am grateful to the U.S. Government for launching 30 satellites that civilians can use for free. I have a GPS receiver, a navigation unit, a tracker/locator, and a satellite phone. All of them operate from satellites orbiting the earth.
I have been wandering around the desert since I was a teenager and have hiked, explored, and blundered my way around a lot of territory. People are lost or injured every weekend. Our deserts and surrounding mountains can be dangerous places resulting in some very sad deaths. Fortunately, modern digital electronics can help save a lot of problems for people who are out in wilderness areas.
A few years ago I bought a GPS receiver and didn’t know how to use it or all of the functions it was capable of doing. I learned there was an activity called geocaching where otherwise intelligent adults go looking for hidden treasures which were placed by others so that geocachers can go searching for them with the use of a GPS receiver. It is a fun thing to do and people benefit from being outdoors looking for containers with completely useless toys like we used to get for free in a box of Cracker Jacks. People record the location by coordinates of degrees of longitude and latitude. I have done some geocaching to learn how to use the device, and was out with a friend of ours who is an enthusiastic geocacher who looks for caches everywhere he goes. In this case we were in Big Bear for the Fourth of July and we had to take a break to look for buried toys.
I primarily use my GPS to locate my game cameras which are left in position which take pictures of anything that passes in front of the lens. I have taken a lot of pictures of coyotes, road runners, foxes, bobcats, raccoons, ravens, and a tortoise. The cameras can be set on video with sound, or on still photography, and have IR night vision. I leave them in the shade for a week. Most people think there isn’t much going on out in the desert, but would be surprised to find the amount of wildlife there is at night. I have two game cameras and place them together, one set on still and the other on video.
I locate cameras where people are not likely to be near enough to find them. Sadly they get stolen or maliciously damaged but I haven’t experienced any problems like that. I record the coordinates of camera locations so I can return and find them. The GPS also records the route one walks or drives and it shows on an LCD screen as a dotted line on a topo map, known to GPS users as a “bread crumb trail” or a “snail trail” so it can be followed to the exact location. They are very accurate and can record within inches of their target. They can also aim nuclear weapons, which is one of the purposes the military has spent the billions of dollars on the system (constellation) of satellites. They are also used by truckers, police agencies, ships, airplanes, first responders, etc. Depending on the brand and model, they show distances, compass, speed, altitude, water sources, local businesses, streets, roads, points of interest, etc. Some include CB radios and cameras. A GPS would be very important if anyone is lost or needs help with car breakdowns. One never knows when we may come upon an accident scene, report a fire, or any illegal activity. I have brought my GPS on an airplane and watched the map on the screen at 450 miles per hour. The flight crew has told me not to use it.
When I am out in the desert I leave a copy of my GPS camera location at home so I can be located if I am not home for dinner. I am frequently out beyond cell phone range, so I have a satellite phone and can reach nearly anyone on planet Earth and have tested it to and from Hawaii and Alaska.
I recently acquired a GPS tracker/locater which can find my location on a smart phone or computer monitor. It emits a signal every 30 minutes, which flags my location. I would prefer one that police use for surveillance or ankle bracelets, or biologists use to tag bears, whales, mountain lions, or bighorn sheep. I have not found one online and assume they are not available to the public or are too expensive. Like I mentioned earlier, technology is rapidly changing, so I expect to see something like that on the horizon.
I recommend getting a GPS with topo maps of North America. There are several brands and grades of GPS receivers. I have had Garmin and Magellan and they are available for about $200 on up, and are worth it for your safety and help navigating to a desired destination. Try to find one that you can carry with a strap, lanyard, or carabiner so you can keep your hands free for a walking stick, note pad, etc. Always bring extra batteries. I recommend lithium batteries as they last about twice as long as alkaline batteries
Four years or so ago I finally bit the bullet, paid the big bucks, and bought a new ARB Refrigerator/Freezer. In the thirty-seven plus years I have been off-roading all over the Western deserts; second only to my Tacoma, bar none, it is the second best investment in off-road equipment I have ever made!
I ordered it from Amazon. The fridges are price-fixed so shopping for a lower price may net you a buck or two savings, but it’s not worth the effort. The significant benefit of ordering from Amazon is you will have NO Sales Tax, Free Shipping, a 30 Day No Questions Asked Pre-Paid Return Shipping warranty. If there are any genuine problems (NOT likely, mine’s been bullet proof!), not just not liking the color!?
I ordered mine before the Tuesday night shipping deadline, paid for One Day Delivery, received it Wednesday evening, and left for Panamint Valley (Mahogany Flats/Telescope Peak actually), Thursday afternoon! It was mid-August; 120°+ on the Valley floor, and while my trail mates were running into Stove Pipe Wells to stock up on ICE every other day wasting considerable time, gas and money, I was relaxing back in camp without a thing to worry about! These coolers really work and are worth every penny you will pay for one in convenience, time and money!! Not to mention no more sloshing melted water,
SOGGY sandwiches or lousy ruined meats and veggies!
One caveat: you cannot have cold beer and frozen ice cream at the same time, they are not a refrigerator AND freezer. They can only be set as one or the other. They only have one compartment, and the temperature you set: 28°F, 32°F, 42°F, whatever, will be the temperature you will have. Having said that; there is one possible work-a-round, suggested by one of the ARB Tech guys. If you really need to take along some ice cream bars or ice lollies you can try setting the cooler at, say, 28°-30°; laying them at the very bottom of the cooler and covering them with a thick Styrofoam pad, and putting the rest of the food (beer) on top of the Styrofoam. They suggested that just may allow the upper part of the cooler to rise/remain slightly above freezing temperature? I haven’t tried it so I
It’s worth mentioning the ARB Customer Service and Tech’ guys up in Washington State are a great bunch of willing and helpful guys!
I’m not going to elaborate more.
If I can answer any specific question,
– “Coop” Cooper. Big Pine
Have you ever left a light on too long, or maybe left the CB on something else that drained the battery down so low that you would not have enough juice the next morning to start your vehicle? If so, this article is for you.
The Battery Brain is a gadget that disconnects the battery from everything when the battery gets low, but leaves enough in it to start the vehicle. You have to pop the hood and press a button on the small box that fits between the battery and the connector for the rest of the vehicle to reset it. There are enough links on the Battery Brain that it will fit any vehicle. There is also a more expensive model that will reset with a pushbutton inside the vehicle, no need to raise the hood. I have one in the Tacoma that carries my Pop-top around. I guess Marian must have left something on….
To do a Martin is to get stuck while deviating, for no apparent reason, from a well-marked, solid road; it is not to be confused with a Perko, which is to get stuck while on an imaginary road or a Lawrence, which is to get stuck on no road at all.
This picture shows a typical Martin
[Note the Desert Explorer in the foreground, anxious to help
the hapless victim,
showing no concern for his own well-being
or potential damage to his vehicle,
especially the clutch]
Here is a great tool, introduced to us by Chuck Kalback, that makes letting the air out of your tire a breeze! No more looking for a twig to press on the valve stem, check remaining pressure with a tire gauge, back to the twig, back to the gauge, etc. Best of all it is one you can put together yourself with very little expense.
On a recently trip to Baja California, we brought along a new ice chest. We first heard of this new cooler from John Marnell who read about it in a magazine.
On Tuesday, December 29, at about 4:00 p.m., we put a 12"x8" block of ice into the "EXTREME" Cooler. Everything in the "EXTREME" cooler was prechilled. We also placed a block in my regular cooler. When we got home Sunday, January 3, at 11:00 p.m., everything was still cold, and we had a piece of ice left that was about 2-3" thick by about 6" square. Our regular cooler had to be replenished with ice on Dec. 31 at about 10:00 a.m. and was almost room temperature when we got home.
Here's some sound advice from John Page:
Long, steep hills can challenge a truck unless the gear selection lets the engine run at its most efficient RPM. Vehicles develop their peak horsepower at what used to be considered fairly high revolutions. The 1995 Jeep Wrangler for example is rated at 100 rear-wheel horsepower at 4,500 RPM and maximum rear-wheel torque of 131 at 3,000 RPM. The 1995 Ford Ranger is 90 hp at 4,500 and 140 torque at 3,000. Most current vehicles have similar specifications. That means to get the maximum horsepower, or maximum torque you must select a gear and range that will pull the hill with the engine turning at the best RPM. High revolutions may sound as if the engine is about to take off, but they are far better than an engine that is lugging and will be much kinder to the engine. Failure to make the right selection can result in overheating.
Our new subscriber, Jim Kay, showed us a great way to save water and dish scrubbing. He put his plate inside a plastic bag so when he filled his plate with food it was on the plastic bag. When finished he pulled out the clean plate and disposed of the dirty bag. Slick!