Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Making Hapy Sounds (Part 1)

After so many years of driving without a real source of music, I have taken the plunge. Today's post gets us grounded in my efforts to get musical sounds going.

Early Experiment
good ol' Dark Star
Recall a few years ago, I was given an old 1980's car stereo (See A Sound You Hear That Lingers In Your Ear). Since the bus is so old, an original radio probably would have been an AM radio with a single speaker in the dashboard pointing up at the wind screen. Even with the original engine and interior, hearing that radio would have been difficult. Adding the bigger, louder diesel engine makes more white noise. Hopeful, I took that 1980's stereo, and wired it into a power source. I ran speaker-wires to a pair of 5-1/4" speakers on the floor. This sort of worked. We could not get the music loud enough to hear without distortion. Without more evidence, we could not be sure if it was a radio power output issue, a weak speaker issue or a speaker-placement issue. The least expensive option was moving the speakers around, so we tried plopping them on the dashboard, one on each end near the A-pillars. This helped some, since it moved the speakers closer to our ears, but it was not really that much louder and having speakers just sitting on the dash is pretty precarious. So, I pulled the radio, wires and the speakers (the speakers are in Oliver, the MGB, now). Boo and I returned to using a little puck speaker which didn't really deliver much sound. So, ultimately, we drove for probably a year without any music at all. Honestly, we like to just talk about stuff anyway, so the drive to Chinook Fest (See Chinook Fest 2017 - Road Report), for example, was great, even though we had no music and had to wear masks from the forest-fire smoke.

Sound Bar Experiment
After driving Oliver around, and enjoying a drive completely surrounded with sound, I started thinking about how to bring music to Hapy again. As I spun up ideas, C suggested that I simply get a sound bar and put it on that little shelf I built a few years ago (See Sunshade to Shelf). That little shelf gets a ton of use. When we drive, our phones, and glasses go there. I have a couple surgical masks up there in case of forest fire smoke. We keep the cords for charging our phones there. When we camp, we use that aluminum lip for clipping the front privacy / sunshade. Super handy. It has about 2-1/2 inches of height, so putting even basic tweeters up there would be difficult. Arguably, I could install speakers into the shelf so they point down (and I still might do that), but I wanted to try something less destructive first. C's sound-bar idea sounded like a great one. He recommended getting one from Goodwill, and I would have done that if I knew I could get one that (a) worked and (b) had all of its related cords. So, I bought one of these at AZN instead. For $35US, it was a viable experiment, and if the experiment was a bust the speaker could be used on our back deck.

We found that we could not drive enough source volume into the sound bar through the 3.5mm wire/plug input. We used an old MP3 player and then an iPhone that way. Max volume still wasn't loud enough, but there was no distortion. When we used blue-tooth, though, it was totally loud enough to hear. In fact, it was in this arrangement that we drove home from Eugene after JRAD (See JRAD - Eugene Road Report). We used the speaker for lot-sounds at 4Peaks as well. If the sound enveloped us more, I would have stopped right there. After Oliver, I was spoiled and wanted music at least as full as GratefulEd has in Belle.

Plan for Surround Sound
I spent some time looking around to see how others solved for music in their bus, including GratefulEd. He put his fronts into his doors but I did not want to go into the door cards. My original cards were cut for speakers and the vapor barrier (plastic film) wasn't managed properly, causing the speakers and the cards to eventually fail. My kick panels failed a long time ago, but with a plan to install new ones, they present an opportunity for speaker placement. I could put a pair of 5-1/4" speakers as high in the kick panel as I can manage. Until I acquire kick-panels, though, I will need to be creative.

Remember the speaker spot in the dash that faces upwards? I believe I can fit a pair of small (3-1/2") speakers in there, but I think I'm going to hold off on that for this first round. I would like to see how the basic 4-speaker system works first.

For the rear speakers, I was at a loss. The real estate anywhere around the bed is basically consumed. Boo and I need all of that low space for ourselves. The head-space is open and unimpeded, perfect for when you sit up or when you are going to bed. I don't want a speaker there. So, we get out of the box for the definition of "rear".... I got a pair of 6x9 speaker boxes and loaded them with speakers. This will force the wiring for the speakers to be a little more free than your more typical install. While driving, the speakers will sit under the middle-row / lot couch or on top of our camping stuff. I could use velcro to hold them in place; I'll let the driving experiments drive to that, if needed. Once we're parked, the speakers will have enough wire to move up to the pop-top or outside the bus.

Thump Thump Thump
One of the things that I thought about when I did the stereo in Oliver was the portability of the custom speaker box and amplifier. So, part of the plan for Hapy will include speaker wiring for a possible sub-woofer as well as thought around how to run the speaker wires at the head unit so I could swap the amplifier in without having to re-wire everything. This meant that the head unit needed to have greater output capability than the unit I put in Oliver, since it will probably, most often, be running without the amplifier and sub. I surmise that simply because moving the amp and speaker box will take effort, and sometimes that little extra thing is just one thing too many. So, for a head unit, I got another Sony (MEX-XB120BT, this time) which puts out 45W per channel. It also has 5V outputs for an amp, which aligns with the amp-outs from Oliver's head unit (Sony MEX-M70BT). This should support the portability I was aiming for while supporting some solid sound when I do not have an amp.

With a pile of parts (front speakers, rear speakers, 6x9 speaker boxes, a head unit and a big spool of 14ga speaker wire, I felt ready to start. As with any interesting post, this got long, so I'll stop here and pick it up next time.

Thanks, as always for following along--

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Love on the Bus

Short post today, describing a day spent just doing little things on the bus in the middle of festival season.

When we got back from 4Peaks, we had a small electrical issue, that was solved in all of 5 minutes with a replacement 8amp fuse. With that quick satisfaction of a minor issue, I wanted more. Since we had driven through the desert and I wasn't really sure when I last changed his oil, I did that. Changing the oil on this engine is so easy. 15mm drain plug loosens easily and sits less than 2 inches above the drain pan, so there's virtually no mess. I remove the fill cap so it drains faster. While the last drips are coming out, I remove and replace the oil filter. This can get messy, but I have found that pulling the filter straight up with one hand while the other, wrapped in a single-use plastic grocery bag, grabs the bottom, you can contain all of the oil. This works best if you raise the filter and let it drip into the holder for a minute before you grab with the other hand. Replace both the upper and lower o-rings. You should have gotten both with the filter, unless you went super cheap, and why would you go cheap on an oil filter?

floor, when first uncovered
While hanging out in the camp zone with GratefulEd, we talked buses of course, and the topic of rust came up. He usually does some level of rust search-and-destroy every other year. Based on that model, I'm due. So, I removed the lot couch and the foam mats off the floor in the middle of the bus, and attacked the surface rust I found there. Years ago, I had cleaned up rust here after removing some il-planned noise absorption matting. The matting did not stick well, and trapped more moisture than noise. So, this time, I cleaned, sanded and re-cleaned the floor. I applied 2 coats of rust converter on the entire floor. Once cured, I applied rubberized undercoating. This should remove the threat of rust from above. This leaves the threat of rust from below, however, and this model of bus has the 2 welded-in belly pans. So, I will need to get creative in solving for that. Then, of course, there is the radiator under the center section. I will need to lower it to get after the rust potential there, but that will need to wait until October, when camping/festival season is over. I walked the bus a little bit, making note of where there was a wisp of rust either as a stain or as a bubble under the paint. There is quite a bit to look at, but none of it really terrible. It's just in lots of spots. More opportunity to love on Hapy while not taking him off the road.

after rust converter and undercoating
With the foam off the floor, I could really hear the echo coming off the steel floor. Rapping on floor with my knuckle was like knocking on the sidewall of a steel shed (clang-clang-clang). Yikes, that's just awful. No wonder my ears rang after the drive home from 4Peaks. So, I grabbed the 80mm Noico that I used on Oliver, the '78 MGB, and cut thin strips to set in the little ribs in the floor. Once all of the rib-divots had Noico applied and worked in with the roller tool, I placed 3 larger sheets down on top above the center section (effectively over the radiator). I figured the fans could be creating more vibration so having a little extra there couldn't hurt. Once rolled snug with the roller tool, I tested with my knuckles again. The clang-clang-clang wasn't as pronounced, but these sheets are not designed to lessen that kind of noise; they are designed to muffle vibrations. So, the real test is when the fans turn on and the engine is running at 2800 rpm. Noise reduction folks have said that only 25-50% of a surface area needs to be covered with these vibration things to have a noticeable impact. I covered over 50%, so, in theory, this should make a difference. Resigned to seeing how it felt when I next drove, I put the foam back down and the lot couch back in. There was no visible evidence that I had done anything, but it seemed like Hapy was sitting taller, like he was Hapy he got some love. Yes, I know that sounds silly.

When I was done with the oil, I remembered that I had an engine cover for the TDI engine in Flash that I took off years ago. I don't remember why I took it off, nor why I left it off, but there it was leaning against the wall on top of my shop bench. I think I had planned to use it in Hapy for years, but figured I needed to cut it to fit, so I just left it there. Well, today I was just puttering anyway, so I gave it a test fit. Wouldn't you know, it slipped right on. Now, the bracket which holds the vacuum ball had the cover mount cut off, so I can only hold it in place with 2 bolts (and I only had one). After pawing through a box of random fasteners, I found a M6 bolt that was 30mm long. Perfect. So, now the engine has a cover. Since I don't look at it hardly ever, the cover shouldn't be an access issue, but it should contain a little bit of the noise. We'll see.

That's really all I have today. I'm working on a new piece of furniture for when-camped, but it is still in the design stage. Until then, more shows and camping awaits!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

4Peaks 2019 - Music Report

What's this? I know, I usually just have 2 posts about something interesting, so what's with this third post? Well, we tried to focus more on the music this year, so here is an entire post dedicated to it. Consider the layout of the festival grounds first. The camp zone is uphill, but also downwind of both stages, which point at the camp zone. So, when the wind is right, or very light, the sound carries directly into the camp zone. So, as you walk around, visiting friends, play games or check out the vendors, the music is there. This makes it easier to not be in-person at the stage for a performer, which is why we usually don't see much in-person. This year we saw more, and focused more on the music, but still didn't see nearly as much as we thought we would.

Before we left home, I did some homework on the bands. Some previous years I had done that, but it has been a while since I had. With that homework came a pecking order or list of bands I wanted to see with one or 2 each day that I really wanted to see (marked with an asterisk). The list follows, with opinions following. The main stage only operates on Friday and Saturday, and interestingly, most of the bands I wanted to see were on the small side stage anyway. So, that small group who appeared on the main stage are noted.

Time Artist Notes
8:00 *Lil Smokies A blend of more bluegrass than Americana. They were good though, and it was a strong start to the music side of the festival
10:00 movie @TheJunction: UP! Boo hadn't seen "UP", so we added that to the list. But, it was way too cold to sit out in the open watching a movie. When I say cold, it dropped into the upper 30F's, so, yeah, that's too cold to sit in a lawn chair in an open field so we sat by the buses with the propane heater instead

Time Artist Notes
11:00SwindlerDescribed as psychedelic meets funk, these guys were good, but we didn't make it all the way to the stage. 11AM was too early in the day for them, IMHO. They really could have benefited from the cover of dark and some crowd pre-funk. Our neighbor, JerseyPaul, liked them so much that he bought their CD from the merch tent as soon as they left the stage. Strong statement
1:30Mestizo BeatAfro-cuban beats. These guys threw it down. Lots of really good bump in what they were doing. Again, didn't make it to the stage, but the sound across the festival grounds was really really good. We walked the vendors nearest the stage for about half of their set
4:00Polyrhythmicsmore funk. more beats. more dancing. Not as strong as I had expected, but as the day gets later, the expectations rise. Right?
6:45*Pink Talking FishThese guys were the buzz of our festival. Everyone we talked to, we asked about Pink Talking Fish, and they were a huge hit. Boo made it to the front of the stage, but the tent was full front-to-back of dancing. Their set included a ton of Phish (including a really good, long Bathtub Gin), but very little Talking Heads. They hit a "Crosseyed and Painless" that stayed in my head for not just the rest of the festival, but for another week afterwards. That bass/percussion groove was mesmerizing. The topper? a Beastie Boys encore: Sabotage. Mind Completely Blown. We will go waaay out of our way to see these guys again. So fun.
8:15Los Lobos (main stage)Los Lobos was a tale of 2 bands in one long set. They played 40 minutes of traditional Mexican music (Mariachi/Ranchera) and then switched into groovy, jammy stuff. They closed with a "Not Fade Away" into "Bertha" that had us singing along. That's some fun stuff.
10:00*Poor Man's WhiskeyIt is rumored this was to be their last 4Peaks appearance, so this would be their last special / small stage performance. But, we missed it. After Pink Talking Fish and Los Lobos, we were spent. Besides, there were friends to visit, so we took the last band of the day off for some late food. We could hear them across the festival grounds though, and they hit many of our favorites from past 4Peaks visits. They are always solid as the last band of the first full day

Time Artist Notes
12:15Maddie Carpenter (main stage)I thought Boo would like her, since she has Bonnie Raitt and other strong female vocalist influences. I was right, and I really liked her too. It may have been a big stage for her, though, as she sounded a bit nervous, especially through quiet parts of her songs. She can totally belt though, and when she got her footing, she wailed. I had expected her to appear just by herself with a guitar, but she was backed by Poor Man's Whiskey, shy the lead vocalist, so it was an unexpected treat musically as well.
1:30The Drunken Heartsbased a review, I had added these guys to the list. We missed them because of some unexpected, unplanned performances 2 camping spots away from us. I'll explain further down
2:45*Sonny Mandreth (main stage)based on reviews, I got excited about Sonny. Boo and I went down to check him out. The crowd was light, being early on Saturday, but the band was great. He started with a 25-30 minute acoustic set before launching into a full electric set. The acoustic stuff was really good, but during the break between instrumentation, Boo and I drifted away to the vendors and heard the rest of the set away from the stage. Again, the sound quality across the festival grounds is really good, so we could hear it all, but we just weren't as focused.
4:15Sister SparrowI added this band for the lead singer's vocals, and she delivered. The band seemed completely designed around showcasing her singing, which is a minus. The solos were brief and just "okay", and there didn't appear to be a genre; they ranged from soul to gospel through R-and-B and blues. Had the group played like a group, the lack of style wouldn't have been such a thing. From the outside, the set was odd, but her voice is amazing.
5:15Poor Man's Whiskey (main stage)We tried listening to Poor Man's Whiskey through the radio simulcast. The radio fidelity was fantastic, but the delay from the stage flowing up the hill to the camp zone fought with the timing of the simulcast, creating an awful echo. It made the radio not viable for us. They were great, as they always are, but we were not "in the house" for their set, listening instead from GratefulEd's loft or by The Junction
6:45Andy FrascoI added Andy based on rumors. I had heard of Andy, and JerseyPaul raved about them ahead of their show. We chose to grab vendor-food and catch them in-venue. In terms of raw energy, Andy wins the 4Peaks prize. He was jumping all over the place, and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. He closed his set in his apparently-typical way: pseudo-bar mitzvah chair dance to "hora to Hava Nagila" which I thought was a little trite. It was a great show until he jumped the shark that way
8:00Wood Brothers (main stage)I had heard good things about the Wood Brothers, and they totally delivered. For only 3 musicians, we were very impressed for the breadth and complexity of what they were producing. Their sound was the most pure from distance, as compared to everyone else we heard from afar. I don't know if it was the reduced wind or what, but we could stand in The Junction and hear them absolutely perfectly. Every note crystal clear. And so good.
10:00Billy Stringsbased on review, we were going to go see Billy Strings. We chose to stay local, and visit with friends, thinking we could listen on the simulcast. Turns out, the simulcast ends when the main stage shuts down, so we missed them. Unlike some other bands playing on the small stage, they did not carry across the festival grounds, so we didn't hear much. Since the wind had died down, we should have been able to hear; we just couldn't. Our friends had conflicting feedback. JerseyPaul said they were "ok but lacking that special something". Another new friend, Jay, said they were "amazing, simply amazing". Further proof that beauty is in the eye, or ear, of the beholder

Time Artist Notes
12:30Scott LawWe've been trying to catch one of his shows since the Black Sheep Family Reunion when he appeared with Ducky Pig. BUT, we missed him again. We could hear some from the small stage, and when we went down, we were able to hear about half of his set as we approached through the vendors, but arrived too late to catch any of the magic. We'll get to seeing him one of these days
2:30Rising AppalachiaI had heard rumors of their sweet harmonies, and they delivered. There are few things as sweet on the ears as intertwined female vocals in a bluegrass / Americana / folk genre. We listened while we broke camp, and it was a perfect end to a music-intensive weekend

The Junction
Unlike last year, there were performances at The Junction this year. The GoWesty folks have added a musical pod-cast to their array of offerings (see here). So, when you combine the 4Peaks interest for pop-up performances with this new pod-cast thing and then put the GoWesty folks at the Junction where the pop-up performances are desired, there's a musical storm brewing. And it stormed. There were at least 3 separate performances that we caught. In each case, the crowd was fewer than 20 people and the whole thing was located 2 buses down from us in a little performance area the GoWesty folks formed with 3 Vanagons.

Maxwell Friedman and CJ Neary
2 kids who each sat in with various bands over the course of the festival (Maxwell with Matador, and others and CJ with Los Lobos) set up as the first podcast. There were about 15 of us watching them set up and play through 4 or 5 songs. I learned after they finished that Maxwell is just turning 15, heading into his Sophomore year of high school which means that when he sat in with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe 2 years ago, he was 13 heading into 8th grade. CJ Neary may well be that old now.

Maddie Carpenter
Unlike her time on the big stage, Maddie seemed right at home standing on the lawn in front of a row of Vanagons, singing with a 4-piece backing band. Since her vocals were not amplified, some of her vocals were hard to hear from 20 feet away, but when she powered up, it carried very well. I don't know 100% who the backing band was, but I think it was Poor Man's Whiskey again. They were tight, and pulled CJ up for a song.

There was a great 4 or 5-piece band that we didn't catch the name of. They didn't play any of the stages, but they got on the pod-cast. They had a mandolin player with a big voice and a harmony singer on a guitar who sounded so good together. Of the unscheduled, unexpected performances, I liked these guys the most, and stayed for their entire set, costing me the time to see the Drunken Hearts on the side stage.

The Drunken Hearts in a Late Night Pop-up
Saturday night, after the side stage closed up, we were visiting with friends. Boo and I wanted to stretch our legs and see the cold dark night sky so we wandered off from our camp zone. Across the fire lane, we were talking to NewTrailerRussell, and we heard about a pop-up show. "By the 4 flags" around 1:AM. Well.. it was practically 1:AM already, so we wandered towards where we knew there were 4 flags flying on one pole, and sure enough, tucked in behind 3 layers of tents there was a 10x10 with a band cranking. We worked our way to the front (Jerry's side) of the small crowd of about 40 people and caught 3 long jam-songs by the Drunken Hearts. They were great, and I was sorry that I had to make the choice between some random pop-up show and them on the small stage, but grateful that I ended up seeing both. Best of all, this set was one of their choosing for themselves, not for whatever audience they thought they were playing for.

That's it for the music review. Overall, the music was great. There is always a strong representation of bluegrass at 4Peaks, but this year it felt like the organizers were really trying to get more groove or funk happening. We liked it and we'll be back next year. I think doing the homework ahead of time gave us the means to make informed decisions about the bands, and gave us stronger reasons to get to the stages. I think I'll do that homework more as well.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

4Peaks 2019 - Festival Report

Ah yes, the annual report on what happened at 4Peaks. Before I start, I have to say that 4Peaks is an annual tradition for a reason. We absolutely love 4Peaks. So, please read any criticisms through that lens; we love it and we want it to be as great as it can be. I already posted on the travel adventures, and I'll post about the music next, so this post is just about the festival itself.

This year, Boo and I were joined by GratefulEd and our old friend Mayhem. As I mentioned in the Road Report (See 4Peaks 2019 - Road Report), we crashed at Mayhem's ranch the night before the gates opened. The following morning, we carabused to the lot with GratefulEd's Belle leading our 2-bus parade. Recall, Belle is a 1973 VW camperbus with a Riviera pop-top, but a fairly custom interior. Similar to Hapy, Belle is not really a looker, in that she was painted with dark green fence paint. She does have lots of cool old stickers and flags, though. This year, GratefulEd added an observation deck on top of his luggage rack, so he (or anyone else) could sit in a deck chair and look out across the festival grounds high above the cars. You can see the ladder access to the deck in the picture on the right, and me testing it out in the picture below that.

Who's Bus?
Between the stickers, flags and the observation deck, GratefulEd had lots of folks asking questions about Belle. Based on the way we were set up, I think Hapy just disappeared into the back ground. No, I'm NOT jealous; it's actually the way we prefer it. I didn't get many questions about Hapy; in fact, I think the only questions were out of reference to Belle, like after learning Belle was a '73, they would ask what year Hapy was. If I get around to painting his lower half over the winter (like I originally planned 10 years ago), it will be interesting to see if suddenly there is interest. Again, that's not what I want necessarily, it would simply be an interesting sociological experiment.

Last year (see 4Peaks 2018 - Festival Report), I said that I wasn't a huge fan of the GoWesty designated lot because it felt like we were hanging in an art gallery with a bunch of really nice looking art. Hapy is built for camping, not gawking, so he attracts very little attention, even when we're all by ourselves. This year, though, the GoWesty lot was not as formally laid out, so it didn't feel nearly as much like a car show. Maybe Ziggy heard some feedback after last year and changed it up. I dunno. Either way, I didn't overhear the "I like that one better" comments like I did last year, and we had far more passersby drop in, so regardless of why, it was better.

Arrival and Set Up
sunset by Peaks, Hapy nose on left
Anyway, we arrived at 4Peaks around 11:30. All printed and internet documentation said that early entry (before noon) was reserved for the "GoWesty" folks like us. That clearly wasn't the case, though, as we entered a scene of camps getting set up all over the grounds. Regardless, we found our way to the GoWesty zone, and parked in a "L" shape with Belle. Belle was parked facing head-tail perpendicular to the fire lane while Hapy was parked parallel, with his nose pointing towards the stage. This put our privacy screen where passersby on one of the main roads could see it. More importantly, this placed the observation deck pointing at the mountains, so GratefulEd could sit with a book, listen to the music and when he raised his eyes, he was looking at the 4Peaks for which the festival was named.

Central Oregon can be windy, and this year, the wind was fairly consistent. When the sun was out, the wind was blowing at least 10mph steadily, gusting higher. The predominant direction was from the stages up towards us striking Hapy's windscreen, so shortly after we had the Busdepot canopies up, GratefulEd and Mayhem put up a double-king size tie-dyed sheet along the wind side. We zip-tied the canopies together, and zip-tied the sheet to the poles, creating a mostly-wind-blocked zone. Within 30 minutes we had pop tops and canopies up, the lot couch out, carpets down, and beverages opened. Since it was barely past noon and the first band didn't start until 5, we had all afternoon to settle in and meet our neighbors.

Weather the Weather
While the wind was strong when the sun was up, the temperature was low most of the time (barely scraped into the mid-70F's on Saturday as the 4-day high) and very cold at night. The first night, it dropped into the upper 30F's, and the wind didn't entirely disappear. Fortunately, I had brought our Little Buddy heater, so we fired that up to semi-warm our living room space. It never rained, and after that first night it wasn't quite as cold, but it still got down to or below 40F overnight every night. Boo and I planned and packed for cold, so between lined pants, knit hats and a warm jacket, we held our own against the cold, and it didn't get us down. That first night, we made hot chocolate for the 4 of us to put some warm inside. Otherwise, we required no heroics. Turns out dancing is a great way to warm up.

Friends Found
Within the first hour, we found Mike-and-Suzie from last year. They, again, volunteered a couple of early shifts, but otherwise we didn't see them much this year. They brought a friend from their hometown who hadn't been to a festival before, so they spent most of their time separated in their own space. We met Jay and Alice from Bellingham, who told us about a small 2-day festival they have there. Alice was fighting a cold, so we didn't see her much, but we ran into Jay everywhere. Our next-door neighbor, JerseyPaul, was a chronic vagabonder, spending months on the road at a time. He had a story for every occasion. Boo played a round of corn-hole with a guy named Bip who we are fairly sure we met at the Black Sheep Family reunion a few years ago. He had an amazing energy.

I was able to connect with Chris the coffee-roaster from last year and give him a pint of Kahlua I had made with some of the coffee beans he gifted us last year. He gifted more beans this year, so we may have started some kind of quid-pro-quo thing. NewTrailerRussel was set up across the fire lane from us. He turned us on to some really good, kinda trippy music from a band named Beirut and showed us the inside of his trailer. It is amazing how light and well-considered new trailers are. He had adorned the walls with little electric candles giving the entire space a terrific warm glow. So nice.

We met lots of other folks too, whose names escape me. For us, the personal connections are why we go to smaller festivals, so having had so much time to meet and connect was especially important to us. We head for the festival with the intent to "see more music this year", but what we clearly really want is more personal connections, so that is ultimately how we direct our time. We vote with our wallets, and we vote with our feet. Everyone does. Sometimes, it takes some thinking to realize what you voted for.

The Junction
Similar to last year, we were within 15 meters of the major intersection at the center of the camp zone, called "The Junction". Many of the complaints I had about last year's Junction were resolved. The coffee place actually sold coffee. The Dump City Dumplings were not located at The Junction, they were inside. There was a caged trailer for axe-throwing. That's right. $5US for 5 throws. We didn't see many takers, but the proprietors were in good spirits. Boo and I met with a guy who drove from Central America and back again twice a year, hauling clothing for selling at festivals like this one in an old Ford Econoline van (picture on the right). We bought a couple of gifts, but it was the getting to know him, and how he approaches life that was the gift to ourselves. He lives in central Oregon, working a "normal" job for 6 months to support his other life of 6 months in Central America where he acquires cloth and clothing to sell.

It wasn't all perfect, though. The coffee cart only had coffee, so requests for anything requiring espresso was not available. Also, there was a Subaru dealership set up right at the corner who would set up this massive super-bright light as they were leaving for the night. Presumably, this was so that passersby would look at their table of pamphlets when the dealership representative left. It was so bright, it disturbed the light-art installation across the street, detracting from it such that you really couldn't see the lights. It was awful, so, we solved that problem for everyone by unplugging the light each night after they left. The twilight that remained was from the light glow of the art installation. Ahh... that's right.

It's rare to comment about the row of plastic cubicles at festivals. When it happens it usually isn't good. So, mark this: the porta-potties at 4Peaks this year were the best managed, cleanest services I have ever experienced. When freshly cleaned, they smelled like Bubble Yum bubble gum, and that smell lasted well into the cubicle being heavily used. Only on the very last day as we were leaving did they start to resemble porta-potties pretty much everywhere: gross.

Vendors and Food
Kidlandia tent
For the most part, we bring our own food and drink. This year, we were each given a Silipint cup so we festival-goers would produce less waste. It will be interesting to see how well that shook out, once they tally the garbage costs. I visited the Silipint booth at The Junction (their booth was a Unimog), but they were il-prepared to talk about their products, nor did they have any for sale or even for show. I'm honestly not sure why they were there.

Within the venue, there are many craft and food vendors. We usually check them all out a little bit, and sometimes we buy something. This year, we were less generous after the trump tax bill killing our finances, but the wares were pretty amazing.

more Kidlandia
For food, there were local restaurants and farms represented. We got peaches and kettle corn from a Tumalo Farm, and got tacos from a Bend taco stand. With Taco's in hand, and Andy Frasco cranking on the tent stage, Boo and I walked through the scattered tables looking for a place to sit. One table was occupied by one person, Brenda, so we asked to sit. We talked as we ate, and learned about another festival at the end of July (Newberry Event) that we are going to try very hard to make. Brenda's friend Alisa joined us and was super-passionate about it. Brenda shared that getting the word out about that festival had been difficult, so it was no surprise that we hadn't heard of it. Since it is a MS benefit, the lack of awareness is all the more important to solve. She decided to post handbills by the end of our conversation, but I wonder if we would have heard about it at all had we not joined her at her table to eat. To me, again, it is the interpersonal connections which draws us to 4Peaks every year.

Overall, this year's 4Peaks was a total hit. I'll get to the music in my next post, but the vibe and the people we met were fantastic. We didn't want to leave, when the time came, but we could feel the draw of home. We stayed almost to the end of the final performer before dropping the pop-top, loading up the last few bits of gear and firing up Hapy's engine for the drive home. Of course, we plan to go again next year. I expect GratefulEd will again, perhaps with his wife. I suspect that Mayhem will join us again; perhaps he will bring his family with him.

1... 2... 3... 4Peaks!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

4Peaks 2019 - Road Report

Time for our annual adventure to Bend for our favorite summer festival. This year marked our 5th, so that would make this my 5th road report about getting to/from the greater Bend area. No, my 7th, since my first Bend road trip post was nine years ago (See Hot Tub, Hot Thai, and High Desert Snow) and then there was the trip in 2015 with the boys (See No Trip is Complete without a Snag). I guess I like driving to Bend.... and then writing about it.

Post-JRAD Resolutions
2 of my favorite things
in one shirt
Before we could leave, there were a few things I had promised Hapy that I would address before we took another drive. Recall, that our speed was getting artificially limited on our way home from seeing JRAD in Eugene (See JRAD - Eugene Road Report). I concluded that this was probably caused by a clogged fuel filter or possibly because of the fuel. To remedy, I replaced the old disposable plastic filter with a new, larger one. I thought the old one was good for both gasoline and diesel. I'm not sure that actually was the case, though. When I went to buy a replacement, the online vendors indicated the old one was gasoline only, and recommended a different, bigger, steel-meshed one for diesel. Cool.

Replacement was easy: first, put a vice-grip on the fuel line on engine side, then loosen the clamp. Remove the filter from the line and let the fuel run out of the filter back through the supply line to the tank. Hold the filter high enough that fuel doesn't dribble out, and put another vice-grip on the fuel line below the filter. Remove the clamp, remove the filter, put the new filter in, clamp it. Remove the supply-side vice-grip and let some fuel into the filter. Once it is mostly full, connect the other fuel line, clamp it, and remove the vice grip.

I also put some star-tron into the tank (following directions) to combat any old fuel issues. Last, I removed, cleaned and re-attached the air cleaner. This, I felt, solved the speed limiting.

I felt like I didn't have the stopping power I had expected, and believed that the rear brakes were not doing much. So, I re-adjusted them. When I did the wheel removal and replacement (see Hammered Rims (part 3)), I purposely left the rear brakes a little loose. Perhaps too loose; I didn't want them dragging, potentially overheating things. While I understand the thought, it wasn't a good one. Brakes need to be adjusted properly. So, I followed the common procedure for adjusting the rear brake shoes found in Muir's Keep your Volksie Alive book (pdf found here) pages 169 and 170. I found his reference for my rear shoes to be upside down, but that could be more of a Hapy thing and less of a John-Muir-had-it-wrong thing.

Regardless, once the rear brakes were making scraping noises, but not slowing the rotation meaningfully, I figured I had them set, and I took a test drive. Hapy's acceleration was back. I was able to get him up past 50mph in the 11 blocks between my turn on and off the local main street, so that's a win. I also did a quick-stop test on the side street to make sure the brakes were grabbing better. They were. I touched the drums when we got back and they were warm, but not hot to the touch, so I figured I got it right. So, Hapy was ready to roll.... after updating the privacy screen with our new destination and a couple of new "ticket" stubs.

privacy screen ready for 4Peaks
To Sisters
The route to 4Peaks doesn't usually change, just the weather, road conditions and Hapy's attitude do. Okay, once we tried coming home the north route through Madras and over Mount Hood. I think that way feels longer and hotter, but it has some great views, has less superhighway and I think the westbound US-26 route over the Cascades is not as steep. Anyway, we usually take OR-217 south to I-5 and head south to Salem before turning east on OR-22. We take that into the Cascade Mountains, joining US-20 along the way. Rather than camp at the vagabonding spot we found last year (44.767381, -122.533192), we were invited to crash at Mayhem's family place outside Sisters. This would put us much closer to the venue the following morning, for a much easier pace into the festival grounds, but also put us on the road for another 90 minutes of driving after a day of work, so we had some fatigue concerns heading into our departure. Still, with a plan to see Mayhem and GratefulEd in mind, we loaded up the remaining bits of gear, filled our coolers with food and beverages, and headed for the highway. We left later than anticipated due to personal interference I won't go into, but that delay allowed us to avoid rush hour, setting our tires on highway around 7.

Clock Turns
Hapy reborn
We topped the tank with $20US, putting our Eugene trip solidly in the low 30's for miles-per-gallon. Since we are now running larger tires, the odometer will read low, so all mpg calculations and mph announcements will have a little asterisk from now on... until I can figure out how to calculate the true distance covered. Still, the odometer still clicks along. In fact, just south of Tualatin the odometer flipped over, setting back to 00000.0. Since we were on the highway, traveling at 55*mph, capturing it on video was a 2-person affair. Still, it was neat to watch through an iPhone afterwards.

The drive itself was fairly easy. We were still feeling the wind gusts, making the wind more of a speed limiter than the engine heat or available power. Hapy seems to have power on-demand, and the Mishimoto radiator (see Back to the Bus - Rad Swap 1 and 2) with twin-fan cowling (see Cowling the Hapy Radiator) are proving very effective at removing excess heat.

We noticed many construction vehicles on the northbound side of I-5 and saw signs portending of nightly paving through Sunday. We mentally filed that for later. Once we left I-5, there is a stretch of maybe 20 miles of open valley before you enter the foothill forests of the Cascades. At that point, the winds subside, and the twisting climbing road starts. By the time we got there, we had stopped for a bag of grease (fast-food burger joint), and the traffic had thinned so much, we had the road to ourselves. The forest was dark, shortening our perceived evening, so Boo set up with a pillow and blanket. While she napped, I drove our usual route, sharing recently passed landmarks when she stirred. The night cooled as we crossed the summit, and the Hoo Doo Ski Area, and Hapy stayed nice a cool, with a peak temp around 196*F. We caught a tailwind coming down into the high-desert outside Sisters, allowing us to easily reach 65*mph without the engine temp creeping above 185*F. After a minor dead-cell-phone issue was solved, we found Mayhem's ranch.

The approach to the venue was uneventful as we followed GratefulEd and Mayhem in Belle. I'll post on the entry, camping, etc in the festival report post.

Getting Home
outside Sno-Cap
Usually, this is the part of the review when things go sideways. Last year, our ignition switch and related wiring went up in smoke. The year before, we took the longer flatter (US-97 to US-26) way home to avoid overheating only to have to pull over what seemed like every 20 minutes and then take an extended break at Ski Bowl to let Hapy cool all the way down. We are grateful that Hapy usually does what he needs to do to get us to our destination, and saves the issues for the ride home. So, with this in mind, Boo and I caravan'd with GratefulEd and Mayhem to Sno-Cap in Sisters before the drive home. With an old-skool hamburger in our respective bellies, Boo and I jumped back onto US-20 while GratefulEd took Mayhem back to the ranch. Boo and I were relieved to have GratefulEd trailing, just in case something went poorly. We checked that the radiator fans were spinning (this has been an issue after 4Peaks in the past), and hit the road.

US-20 is the sole thoroughfare south of US-26 from Bend, Sisters, Redmond and other localities in Central Oregon through to the Willamette Valley. It is widely regarded as the "faster" way to Portland, though, depending on where you live, there may actually be no difference. That is still enough for most folks to drive US-20 rather than head north on the US-97 to US-26. For someone driving a nearly 50 year old vehicle shaped like a loaf of bread into a headwind, any extra traffic on a Sunday afternoon was not exactly welcome. We simply ignore them, stay right as best we can, and enjoy the scenery. Honestly, the overall traffic load wasn't too bad, and we didn't receive any honking horns nor obscene gestures.

In years' past, we have turned off at a viewpoint about 1500 vertical feet above Sisters. We did that again this time, because the engine temp reached 205*F. I concluded that the strong and steady headwind was a greater factor this year than years past. Regardless, the temp dropped very quickly once we were idling at the viewpoint. Within 10 minutes, we returned to the uphill climb, and reached the summit without the temps breaching 200*F again. Once over the summit and past Hoo Doo, the drive is predominantly downhill. Alpine shifts to conifers, and the land becomes less arid. The views are spectacular, and the twisting nature of the road limits just how fast anyone could reasonably drive, so we were not experiencing much pressure from behind. US-20 has many passing lanes as well. In fact, we wouldn't see more than 2 or 3 cars behind us before a passing lane would appear. I would pull right and slow down to encourage everyone to pass, and then the road would be all ours again... for a little while. We found that travelling at 60*mph keeps Hapy's temperatures at 190*F. So, that has become our pace, until we hit inclines.

the journey is the destination

Once we got west of Detroit Lake, we remembered the paving. By now, it was after 6 on Sunday, and we didn't know what the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) considered "night" for paving purposes. Preferring to not sit in creeping construction traffic loaded with weekenders fighting their way home, we pulled off at Sublimity and took a road less traveled. We passed through Silverton, Mt Angel, Woodburn and Hubbard before turning towards the I-5 just south of Aurora, but well north of the paving zone we passed 4 nights earlier. This was some beautiful country, mostly farms, with a couple vineyards and hops-stands mixed in. The farmland was just so beautiful. Every time we take a "Blue Highway" instead of an interstate, we rediscover just how amazing the land is. We were so taken with the moment, we failed to snap any pictures, so we'll have to drive it again. Based on the map software, our detour shaved 25 miles but cost us 10 minutes, if there wasn't a construction slow-down. I think there was one, though.

Final Surprise
We drove almost 7 hours round trip and did the whole thing on one tank of fuel. Since we can't rely on the odometer, we can make estimates about for many miles it was. Figure around 200 miles to get there. Based on electronic maps, the drive back was around 175 miles, so we covered at least 375 miles. The odometer reads 303.5 right now, so with the larger tires, etc, the 375 is probably about right. With this context, at the last major intersection before arriving at our house something electrical happened. It caused the headlights to go out, the little computer monitoring device to stop working, and the radiator fans to stop. Hapy has such a great sense of humor! It turned out we blew a fuse in the original front-of-bus fuse box (confused? See Hapy Rides Again for a decode). One 8A fuse replaced the following morning, and everything has returned to normal. The fuse blew because the original cigar lighter unit was left dangling when I installed the gotta-get-it-started ignition switch in the cigar-lighter hole in the dash. Sigh. When will I learn to put away ALL of my toys when I'm done with them? I disconnected that cigar lighter, and taped off the wire. I intend to move that second ignition switch, so the cigar lighter (used as 12V power source for charging a phone or whatever) will go back in it's original location.

When I fill the tank, I'll calculate the mileage assuming the 375 miles as the range traveled. I may need to dust off the old Garmin so I can start calculating my mileage and speed with greater accuracy. When we got home, and we were unloading, I noticed a hum in my ears which I attribute to the drone of the engine. I will be exploring options for containing the engine noise, starting with a basic TDI engine cover. More to come on this, as I discover things.

Thanks for following along. I'll post on the music and the overall festival soon. For my US readers, Hapy Independence Day. I hope this year we find ourselves less dependent on new things and more dependent on each other.

I re-checked the maps, and the route to the festival was 180 miles. So, assuming there were a few miles here and there added in, plus the 175 miles home, plus driving back to the fueling station (about a mile away), we'll use 360 miles as our mark. When I filled up, I filled until it popped, and then squeezed in a few extra tenths to get to exactly 10 gallons. So.. we got 36mpg*. That is pretty damn amazing.