Not Every Day Is Paradise

I’m not complaining. I’m still enjoying it here in Quartzsite. Today has just presented a few new challenges for me.

The biggest of those problems is the strong wind. We’ve had very little wind since I’ve been here, until now. My telescoping flagpole with my internet antenna on top was bending quite a bit in the wind, and I was worried about it breaking at full height. I remembered how my dad used to lower his telescoping ham radio antenna tower for storms when I was a kid, so I’ve dropped my flagpole to about half its normal height. I can still use the internet, though with reduced performance, but at least I know the flagpole will survive this weather system.

I’m glad I bought a muffler clamp yesterday and turned it into a stand-off support for the flagpole. Yes, it’s missing a nut, but I’m using the bungee to hold the pole to the clamp anyway. I don’t have the angle quite right yet, but I’m not messing with that in this wind. The other end just bolts between the body of the van and one of the door hinges, through one of the three bolts that holds the hinge on. Simple.

My canopy held in there for much of the day, thanks to the upgraded stakes Birgit gave me to hold it to the ground. It seemed safer to leave it alone than to try and take it down in the strong wind. Then it tried to take off, despite the tie-downs, while I was typing this, so I was forced to take it down in the strong wind. It went flying a couple of times, and at least one of the pins that hold it together detached. I couldn’t investigate how serious the problem is because it took all I had just to get it folded up and put away without letting the wind damage it more. I’ll have to open it up and see how hard it’ll be to fix once the wind goes away.

Coming back from a friend’s camp on my bike last night, I noticed that my clutch engagement point was much closer to the handlebar than it used to be. In fact, I couldn’t get the clutch to fully disengage after my initial takeoff. It was dark so I just got myself back to camp and left the bike alone for the night. When I looked at it this morning, the problem was obvious — a frayed clutch cable. It figures. I just bought the Quartzsite off-road trail guide so I can do some local exploring.

I called around to a couple of “local” (meaning within an hour’s drive) shops. One never answered the phone or called me back. Another one, a Kawasaki dealer even, couldn’t get one for a week or two, and then I’d have to drive an hour to go get it. My biker buddy Kate found what I need on Amazon, and was going to buy it for me except she didn’t have a mailing address for me. I bought it myself. It still ended up being free for me thanks to my 5% reward for using an Amazon credit card. It’s still going to take a week to get here, so the bike will still be grounded for a little while. Fortunately, the replacement job itself is pretty quick and easy. And Lister can still enjoy his elevated perch while the bike is a paperweight.

And on top of all that, my nice expensive collapsible camp chair broke yesterday. I’ve used it extensively since this journey began, and it looks like just metal fatigue on one of the joints in the backrest. The way it’s designed, the chair is unusable without this. I’m not ready to give up on it and throw it away yet (it wasn’t cheap), but I bought a couple of cheapish camp chairs so I can at least have somewhere to sit outside, as well as have a guest or two.

Don’t believe everything you see on Instagram. Van life is not always as glamorous as it makes it look. Sometimes you have days like today, where everything just seems to break on you. I should probably step away from the computer before this trend continues…

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