When Tech Support Tells You Wrong

I am embarassed.

Apparently, my resetting of a bunch of previously published posts to private a week ago, then back to public yesterday, triggered a flood of new post emails to those who subscribe here or follow otherwise.

Apologies on steroids for this WordPress blunder. I have tongue-thrashed the help desk, although that won’t soothe your bruised inboxes from the deluge! Even unleashed the bad form police to chase after the perpetrators of this #firstworldproblems crime.

Anyway, just wanted to apologize for the mess. Technology! Can’t live without it, and it’s a harsh bedmate not really to be trusted all the time!

Some (Hiking) Lessons Are Hard to Learn

I’ve been hiking for decades, over countless trails and paths, more than I can remember. Over that time, I’ve picked up the handful of tips and tricks that keep one safe, hydrated, cool (or warm), etc. But there’s ONE area I seem to have a mental block on learning: the art of bug deflection.

Maybe it’s because only a smaller percentage of hikes over the years have needed bug goop. Or maybe it’s because when I apply that nasty stuff, I’m always in a hurry to get that part over with. Whatever the reason, this morning’s nice hike at Camp Seven Lake Campground in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the YOOP), yet again, reminded me of my memory bane.

The thing is, the first thirty minutes of hiking after said bug goop application is a blissful experience: the bugs act as though you’re not really there.

The second thirty minutes, however, they do begin to circle and lightly swarm. They don’t alight nor bite, but they now sense your presence and the waiting game begins.

By the third thirty minutes, their patience pays off. That’s when either through evaporation or dilution via sweat, patches of your skin become… vulnerable. This is when the smarter buggies will find those small patches of unprotected skin and start their feast. This is also when smart hikers who CARRY more bug goop will STOP AND REAPPLY PROTECTION from the forest’s flying teeth.

Fortunately, for me today, the hike only lasted 90 minutes, so my solution for that last 30 minutes was to walk faster! Sort of worked.

So was THIS the time I finally learned my lesson and will start packing the juice on future, bug-season hiking? Hope so, but I’ve been in this predicament before and it didn’t stick.

We’ll see next time!

Life In The Slow Lane

Finally. After two-and-a-half months home in Ann Arbor, I am on the road again!

Other than arriving back too early from wintering in the southwest to avoid winter’s grasp, it was a good stay with some significant mods to VanGeist completed (more on that soon), lots of good hot showers without “military” style efforts, old haunts visited, plus the usual amenities of homelife versus vanlife.

As I planned for the next phase of vanlife travel, 4 months exploring New England then the Canadian Maritimes, there seemed to be a buzz kill waiting for me: Canadian gas prices.

Watching the Canadian vanlife YouTubers I follow and their universal choruses of traveling laments because of high gas prices, I wondered if I should cancel visiting Canada on this trip. I filled up before leaving Ann Arbor a few days ago at $4.39/gallon. Canadian gas? $6.15/USD gallon.

Obvious first-thought solution would be to a) travel shorter distances overall, or b) explore the wonders of Michigan and a few adjoining states and defer Canada for another time. Who among us fully explores their own backyard states, likely full of great places to visit?

There is always another way, of course, to look at things. I recall my trip last December from San Diego, CA, to Yuma, AZ. I installed a second solar panel on the van and because the Dicor goop used to help secure the panel’s mounting feet needs time to cure, I thought it better to slow down to 55 mph versus 70. Results? MPG went up from my usual 15.5 (@ 70 mph) to 19.5 (@ 55 mph).

I wondered: could I be seeing the impact of gas prices the wrong way by just focusing on per-gallon cost? On a per-gallon basis, it is a staggering leap from U.S. to Canada, and more so from a cost-to-fill-tank view: ~$105 in U.S. to $150 USD in Canada.

Breaking down to a cost-per-mile basis, it tells a slightly different story:

  • $ 0.28 – U.S. gas price, per-mile, @ 70
  • $ 0.23 – U.S. gas price, per-mile, @ 55
  • $ 0.40 – Canadian gas price (in USD), per-mile, @ 70
  • $ 0.32 – Canadian gas price (in USD), per-mile, @55
  • Differences:
    • 40% increase, gallon of Canadian versus U.S.
    • 14% increase, per-mile Canadian @ 55 mph versus U.S. @ 70 mph

This way to look at costs shows me if I drive 55 mph in Canada, the cost-per-mile increase is more acceptable to swallow than the cost-per-gallon increase. Driving slow in Canada appears easier to do than the U.S., based on my day drive earlier this week from Detroit-to-Buffalo via Canada (most of the way highway limits were ~55 mph). My takeaway is that I can justify the Canadian Maritime wanderings part, but I removed my original plan to head west after the Maritimes through Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa on the way back to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Net result is a higher monthly gas budget over that time, but saves by eliminating the longer east-to-west planned Canada route.

There is also a bonus when dropping to 55 mph versus 70, regardless of where one buys gas: a significant increased driving range of 100+ miles, which is a huge plus, especially when wandering back roads and such.

Driving slow also has human benefits: more awareness of surrounding scenery, a quieter ride, fewer vehicles riding your tail urging you need to move over, and more relaxed thinking time. Sure it takes longer, but a small price to pay to soften gas prices by taking you farther down the road. Most of my driving days are a maximum of five hours anyway, so for me, slowing down does not add much time.

This drive-slow approach, of course, requires a highway habit shift (with all respect to The Eagles):

🎶 Life in the fast lane, surely make you lose your mind…


🎶 Life in the slow lane, surely make you chill your mind…

Welcome to Windsor

Nota bene: This post marks my return to more frequent blog posts, and to adding new videos to my recently renamed YouTube channel, Adventures Nomadic.

Fools Can Be Fun

There’s a community art experience that happens in Ann Arbor every year about this time. On April 1, a fool’s national holiday, FoolMoon takes over Ann Arbor for an evening of lights and downtown strolling and foolery. Then on Sunday, April 3, the FestiFools annual parade of fantastical, colorful puppets takes over State street near the UofM campus. Link to the group’s annual efforts, which first started in 2007.

Enjoy the gallery below of the puppets in the parade. And although you can’t see the smiles on the faces of children watching, you can imagine the wonder of it all.