Monday, November 26, 2012

White Friday 2012

First, to my readers from the United States, I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving full of your favorite delights.  I enjoyed family, food and football.  Watching the Lions finally win and the Cowboys lose to the Redskins were especially enjoyable.  I regret, however, that I was unable to get the bus operational in time for White Friday.  Again, the battery has inexplicably drained, and my charger is back in the storage facility.  I'll need to charge or jump the bus back to life and then drive around a bit before taking the journey to Mt. Hood.  I did celebrate White Friday at Timberline as planned, though, and I'm going to focus on that instead :)

Rain? What Rain?
Mt Hood Hwy
Starting on Monday, we watched the weather forecasts and snow reports.  Every one of them had some form of drizzle in the plan for White Friday.  I thought for sure that we would have a grey one instead.  All reports had the rain starting around noon, so Boo and I got ourselves out of the house early.  Well, it was early for us on a weekend day- 9:30AM.  Driving Flash with gusto, we got to Timberline before 11.  When you arrive at Timberline, you pass the overflow lot first.  This is usually your early signal of how busy the resort is.  Last year, for example, the overflow lot was almost completely full, and the runs were too.  This year, however, there were less than 2 rows of cars in the overflow.  Once you round the corner from the overflow lot, the main lot is visible on your left.  The main lot was less than half full.  Apparently, everyone else heard the rain threats and gave up on the snow.  Sucka's.

... and then there was sliding
mid-run under the Molly's lift.
Mt. Jefferson deep in the background
The upper mountain (Magic Mile and Palmer) was closed due to lack of visibility.  The clouds were low, but the wind was too.  Most of the lower mountain (Bruno's, Pucci, Molly's, Stormin' Norman, Jeff Flood) was open, though, with just Jeff Flood closed because it is the lowest of them all, and those runs were too soft.  Early season brings a funny split crowd.  There are a group of snow junkies who are quite good and a group of brand-new-to-the-sport folks.  On Friday, the junkies mostly went over to Stormin' Norman for the grind rails and jumps and the newbies stayed mostly on the beginner slope Bruno's.  This left the Pucci and Molly's runs lightly populated, leaving Boo and me some open terrain for fun.  The queue for the lifts were maybe as long as 5 chairs long at the peak with some runs ending with no line at all.  The snow was relatively well-tread, but there was an inch of puff on top and plenty of fluffy off the main trails.  We bounced through un-groomed moguls near the top of Pucci, raced down the Thunder bowl and carved Vicky's Run before stopping to meet my brother E and his daughters K&K for lunch.  E, K&K don't slide, but they love the snow.  They drove up just to visit the white stuff, make snow forts and sled.  After a brief visit, they headed for the out-of-bounds and Boo and I went back to carving.  After 9 or 10 runs, we called it a day.  No rain.  It was actually quite nice.

That's it for today.  I hope you all found a way to celebrate White Friday.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weather Whether Whatever

Yep, its been a month.  I really don't know where the time goes.  When I look at my calendar for that past month, its been all over the place, so I can't point to one thing as my time killer.  I think its simply working too much.  I have had some time playing with the bus.  Boo and I hit the mountain for the first time yesterday, so I'll hit both of those today.

Whether Weather
When I first pulled the electronics together for the bus, I positioned the throttle unit (resistor pack that sends desired speed to computer) under the floor.  This area is protected by a square-ish pan with a couple of silver-dollar-sized machined holes that is supposed to be held on with 6 6mm bolts.  My bus being 40 years old, and having had multiple owners clowning on it, those bolt holes are not dependable.  For example, when I drove to the Futhur show I could hear the pan rattling in the wind.  Yikes.  Now, add the incessant rain we experience in the Pacific NorthWest and the sensitive electronics contained within.  Clearly, the bus was not ready for Fall, Winter and Spring.
First, I closed the machined holes with noise-reduction material.  This reduced the ambient noise as well. On top of that, I glued-in thin closed cell insulation for more noise containment.  I then ran 3/8" window insulation along the lip of the pan.  These 2 efforts solved the water problem, but I still had to get the pan attached to the bus such that the insulation would compress.  Since the bolts were rattling around the holes, I went to Home Despot and bought a handful of every bolt size from 6M to 8M in both metric and US sizes.  None of them worked.  So, I switched it up to thick (size 16) sheet metal screws, and sent one through the front-center and one through the rear-center.  The pan sealed right down and compressed the insulation.  Nice.  I tested the edges with a thin screwdriver, and I was unable to press past the insulation.  Problem seemingly solved.

I apologize for my lack of pictures.  The belly pan work was performed without the benefit of adequate light, so there were limited opportunities for taking pictures then either.  It looks like the drizzle has finally ended, so I'm going to head outside and address the turbo outlet that seems to loosen almost every time I drive the bus.  Once that's done, I just need to solve for the rear cabinet and protecting the electronics hidden underneath it.  Then, the bus will be ready for taking the family to the mountain regardless of the weather.

from 2011-2012 season a-top Palmer
Sister Hood
If you've read this blog long enough to have read entries from last Winter, you're already pretty well aware of my love of snow.  Season lift tickets went on sale a few weeks ago, and I outfitted the family with passes.  Of course, the kids keep growing, so 5 out of 6 of us got new boots (even me; mine were shot), and we spent last weekend at Next Adventure getting extra snow pants, a jacket or 2, etc.  As I write this, I'm starting to figure out where my month went... anyway, Boo and I took a test-flight to Timberline yesterday in my Jetta (bus may go next time).  T-line always has the glacier to slide on.  They call it the Palmer Snow Field; I call it the Palmer Ice Sheet, but either there was snow on Thursday, and it hadn't warmed above freezing since.  As we drove through Government Camp, all the trees had a light snow-dusting on them.  SkiBowl has a couple of inches and even Summit has some.
The road to Timberline was snow covered, but sanded.  We realized our chains were still in storage, so the slight drifts we experienced had us a little on edge.  Still, we made it to the parking lot unscathed.  It was cold.  I mean cold cold.  Almost 0*F cold.  And a wind.  Take the cold and the wind, add that you're suspended in a chair 30' above the ground (and above the tree-line) and finally add that this was out test-run and we both inevitably forgot something.  We couldn't stay very long.  We got 2 runs in and called it a successful test.

That's it for today.  I hope to have the bus winter-ready by ThxGiving so we can take the bus to Timberline for White Friday.  It would really make my season if I could bring my 2 favorite things together.