Saturday, July 31, 2021

Homer to Cooper Landing

As is fitting, on the day we leave Homer, it’s warm, sunny and calm. I picked up a breakfast bagel sandwich on the way to the RV park. 

I left Homer around 1:15pm. Stopped at the Fred Meyer in Soldatna for gas  and continued on to our B&B in Cooper Landing. Right after leaving Homer, it was overcast and the temperature dropped to 55°F. But after the highway turned inland, it warmed up to ~70°F. Much nicer. 

The B&B seems pretty nice and we’ll see what breakfast is tomorrow morning. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Homer, AK

Wednesday - It’s hard for me to tell but this may be Dixon Glacier across Kachemak Bay from Homer. Right now, I’m sitting in Heritage RV Park about ¾ of the way down Homer Spit. They have a nice view facing the bay with a view of the mountains and glaciers out the front door. Their view is below. The pano was taken just after low tide (-0.89ft).

I’m not sure what is on the agenda for today as I just rode down here. I believe the others are exploring the shops near the end of the spit. My brother is having everyone over for dinner (red salmon that he caught last week). I brought the old Instant Pot sous vide stick with me just to cook salmon. 

This was just the view while walking around the shops at the spit. I found the group after they found some fish tacos for lunch. Bridget shared her order. Pretty tasty. 

Thursday - Last night there was an 8.2 earthquake about 500 miles southwest of here. Reports say that it was the strongest quake since 1964. About 10:30pm, the tsunami sirens were going off and the low lying areas were being evacuated. My son and his group in the RV ended up at the cul-de-sac by my brother’s home. The tsunami was a non-event at 0.8 ft. Today is has been a cool, cloudy day. The group had their halibut fishing charter canceled and are now fishing in a small inlet on the spit. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Ural Trip

Sunday - Around noon on Sunday, I headed south with the Ural. The destination for today was Anchorage but eventually, we’ll be in Homer. Bridget left on Saturday with the Prius filled with most of our luggage. I brought my camping gear as I’m considering stopping on the way back. 

It was warm in Fairbanks but by Cantwell, it was 55°F and drizzling. The headwind didn’t help my progress much as the Ural was easily the slowest thing on the road. 

- Lots of wind on today’s ride to Homer. Between the wind and the hills there were times when I could barely maintain 50mph. Homer is beautiful. We are staying with my brother at his home overlooking Kachemak Bay. We are here for several days before heading north to the Kenai River.  

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Permafrost Tunnel

On Saturday, some friends arranged a tour of the Permafrost Tunnel located north of Fairbanks near Fox. I had heard about the facility since I had arrived as a graduate student. 

There were about a dozen of us and the logistics manager did a fantastic job telling us the history of the tunnel including the early days. The original tunnel is still there but it has been expanded numerous times. Both the length and height have been increased. 

The tunnel is chilled to -5°C by numerous air conditioning systems to keep the walls and ceiling solid. LED lights are installed throughout the tunnels so it was pretty well lit. 

Numerous bones were found when they dug the tunnels but due to the area, none were considered archeologically significant. As the ice sublimates, items surface such as this horn. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Week 7 in AK

Monday - One more thing that needed to be done is some septic system maintenance. My role was just scheduling the truck but it took a bit of searching to find the septic tank clean-outs. That area of the yard is really overgrown. I guess I now need to start clearing out more small trees and brush. It’s been a while since it was last pumped out and it ended up costing ~$800. I probably shouldn’t wait so many years. 

The truck arrived just as I finished a test session that I was leading. Good timing as there were just enough VEs available so I wouldn’t have been able to excuse myself. 

 - Today was another Sunshine Coffee day. It's nice to be able to meet with the group. Many of them I've been meeting for quite a few years. By mid-afternoon, it was a very warm 82°F. Or it felt very warm to me. I had some corn in the fridge that needed to be grilled so after the afternoon’s test session, I fired up the grill. Even though it does have a propane tank, I also have a 20# bag of charcoal. Plus, I suspect that the tank is empty. 

Later in the afternoon, we went on a special tour at the Large Animal Research Station aka the musk ox farm. The tour was provided by the credit union. 

Wednesday - We met a longtime friend for lunch here. I had never been here before as it opened around the same time as I had headed out. And it was pretty tasty. I had one of my favorite dishes, kimchi stew with a side of rice. We also had some seaweed salad and some kimchi on the side. 

Thursday - Another rather typical Thursday. Coffee in the morning at Sunsprout Cafe with the regular group followed by the afternoon test session. I'm working on replacing the upstairs shower cartridge that has developed a small leak. I believe that I installed it back in 2005 when I remodeled the bathroom. Instead of trying to guess the part number, I will need to shut off the water for the whole house to disassemble the valve.

Later - The internals of the faucet are corroded in place. Even the brass on brass threaded connections doesn’t budge. My “hack” is an on/off valve for the showerhead. 

Friday - A couple of test sessions and we started to get ready for our trip to Homer. Bridget is leaving tomorrow in the Prius and I'm taking off around noon in the Ural. This is about my only opportunity for a Ural road trip as the summer is rapidly coming to an end.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Week 6 in AK

Monday - In addition to two test sessions, I needed to do some running around town. A visit to Sportsman's Warehouse for some fishing line. The line on my spinning reel was probably at least 25 years old so it was due to be replaced. It is a pretty lightweight setup and I just filled it with 8# test line. I don't plan to go fishing but Bridget plans to take our grandson when we are in Homer. I'm guessing that she will need/want a fishing pole as well. I also stopped at Costco to shop for summer tires for the Prius and have an appointment for the end of the week. Nice that Costco actually does tire appointments. 

After that, I stopped at Zorbas for a gyro using a gift certificate that we received from another food vendor, The Hungry Robot. We lent them a chest freezer for them to use at Chickenstock, a music festival in Chicken AK. Pretty generous given that the freezer has been sitting outside unused. But it works well and the inside was very clean. After the session, I hauled a week's worth of household trash to the transfer site. The Ural has been getting quite a bit of use since the truck has been sold. 

Tuesday - Tuesday/Thursday coffee with the regular group. It was a nice morning though it was starting to feel pretty hot by 11. It's around 75°F but it still feels hot if you are sitting in the sun. I'm back home waiting for the afternoon test session to start. Then, maybe a bit more work on the Ural.

Since I'm planning a road trip later this month, I installed the Heidenau K28 on the rear. This is a street tire designed for use on a sidecar rig. It is a directional tire with a non-knobby tread. I normally use Heidenau K37 tires. I also took advantage of having the rear wheel removed to adjust the anchor point on the rear brake pads. They now actually work halfway decently.

Wednesday - A wet rainy day today. In other words, a good day to continue with maintenance on the neglected Ural. I finally got around to checking the valve clearances. With the engine cold, all valve clearances were still 0.003" so I must've set them shortly before storing the rig.

I looked at some of my old posts and noticed that I had just returned from D2D (Dust to Dawson) and had clutch release-bearing issues. Plus I had gone to Barrow and Georgia so the rig didn't get a lot of use. And I've only driven it about 600 miles since returning. So, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that the valves didn't need adjusting.

Thursday - Another day of no pictures. I guess Fairbanks seems to bit boring. Coffee in the morning and another Costco/Safeway run with the Ural. The rear brakes actually contribute to slowing the rig down after adjusting the shoes. The parking brake still needs to be adjusted.

Friday - I spent the morning in Costco getting new tires for the Prius. The front tires were on the tow dolly but the rear tires saw the RV miles in addition to the running around. So both front and rear needed replacing. Plus, the TPMS sensors needed to be replaced.

Right now, I'm waiting for the afternoon test session to start. 

Friday, July 9, 2021

The Rest of the Week

Wednesday - It actually dropped into the high 40s last night. Is this the beginning of the end of summer? I guess it isn't snowing yet, so I shouldn't be complaining... But it did feel cold this morning.

Here at home, I'm back to my first sous vide stick. The temperature is off by several degrees but as long as you know that, it works fine. I'm using the Instant Pot as the sous vide vessel as it is somewhat insulated to lessen heat loss. It works. I happen to run across a turkey breast at Safeway (only one on the shelf) so it's in the water bath for the next 26 hours. Should be pretty tasty.

Today, it's just tacos. On Tuesday, we stopped by Fish and Game to get our permanent fishing licenses. My old one had pretty much dissolved in my wallet and instead of simply replacing it, I had to re-apply. But this time, they laminated the license. I took several other items down to the copy place and had them laminated as well. Things like my Medicare card, voter registration, Ural insurance card, and ham radio license. Hopefully, they will last a while.

Two more test sessions today. Both of them lasted longer than usual. The first due to a late addition and the second just took a while...

Thursday - After meeting the normal Tuesday/Thursday coffee group, I headed to Fred Meyer to pick up a  few grocery items. It turned out that the power was out on that side of town and FM was running on generator power. They had all of the refrigerated items closed off with emergency lighting. But all of the checkouts were up and running. I also stopped at Sportsman's Warehouse to pick up some fishing line. I figured that the line on my reel was probably 20+ years old. Maybe it's time to be replaced.

Friday - Today, after adjusting the parking brake on a newer Ural, we headed out to the Big M Farm near Nenana to pick honeyberries aka haskaps. They are the color of blueberries but oblong instead of round. We picked 6½ lbs of the delicious berries. 

The farm was a very relaxing way to spend the day. 

After getting back home, the after rain arrived complete with tiny bits of hail and lightning. If you look closely in the picture, you can see the white streaks from the hail. 

Monday, July 5, 2021

More Yard Work

Sunday - Thank you, Tim, for letting me borrow your truck to haul the brush piles to the transfer station. I thought that the yard debris dumpsters would be full but they had at least two drivers hauling away the full ones. It took four trips to haul away the brush. I still have four trees already cut down but need to be limbed and cut into manageable pieces. But there is enough room for a pump truck to back in which is the immediate goal.

I took this picture at Tim's home when I picked up the truck. Does the other sidecar rig look familiar? The current problem is the Nivomat rear shocks are sagging to the point where the rear tire is rubbing on the fender.

Monday - No yard work today! Just a Costco run with the Ural for a handful of items. And like most days in Fairbanks, you run into people you know at most stores.

This evening, we went to the Airheads get-together out in Fox hosted by Ralph at the Howling Dog (still closed for business). We took the Ural and about 20 people showed up.

Thursday, July 1, 2021


Flowers at Creamer's Field. Not very many birds here today as they are not migrating now. But it still looked like it would make a good picture. And, every picture must include the rig, eh? This was actually taken yesterday as, today, it's a little hazy due to smoke. It may be due to a large fire near Manley Hot Springs west of Fairbanks. There isn't a lot of wind but there is a breeze from the west up the Tanana River. The fire map from this morning shows the location of Manley Hot Springs to Fairbanks.

Today was also more Ural maintenance. I remember reading that Ural changed their recommendation for transmission oil to 75W90 full synthetic. In the past, it’s been engine oil but now, gear oil. And, since I don’t remember when I changed the final drive oil, I went ahead and changed that as well. In both cases, minimal swarf on the magnets and the oil looked fairly clean though there was a trace of water contamination in the transmission oil. 

I also cleaned the non-stock air cleaner element. The inside of the housing was caked with dust but the inside of the element looked clean. The element is from a Moto-Guzzi and has much more surface area than the stock element. Right now, I’m waiting for the filter element to dry before re-oiling it. The rear drum brakes are still proving to be difficult to adjust. It seems like they are either dragging or not functioning.