Thursday, May 30, 2024

Scooter Road Trip

I’m heading out on the scooter for a few days of travel. A good friend of mine lives on the other end of the state so it’ll be a good trip. One of the things I’m doing is practicing with the motorcycle GPS. The route picked meanders through the lakes region of New Hampshire. It’s going to be a couple of 200+ mile days. 

200 miles might seem like a lot for a 150 cc motorscooter. Last year one of my day trips came to 257 miles. About 35 miles of that were on mountain back roads. It’s always a hoot to meet someone on a big ADV bike while on my little bike. 

The Scooter Cannonball averages 400 mile days. I hope to ride a bunch of those before the end of the season. Call it training, if you will. There will be a fair big of gear in the saddlebags so that will be similar to my event load. 

I’ll also probably stop somewhere for coffee so it’s going to be a pretty chill ride -unlike what a Cannonball will be like. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

New Truck?

My lovely wife surprised me. She just happened to mention that maybe we should trade in the car for a pickup truck. I happen to like little cars but she’s looking at trucks with good towing capacity. Our car, a Nissan Versa Note, isn’t really rated to tow anything. We also have an old Ford Escape that I put a hitch on. It’s strong enough to launch our sailboat -locally. I wouldn’t want to take it on the highway and go on a long trip. 

In the past we’ve had vehicles with big diesels that could tow just about anything. Apparently she misses those snorty monsters. 

Personally, I’m fine with my lovely wife using the car like a truck. It’s usually packed with shovels and other gardening tools. She volunteers at a nearby botanical garden. 

With the seats folded down the Escape can haul a lot of stuff. Maybe some stuff I should not have hauled with it. My niece was not impressed with the organic fertilizer smell that lingered for days. I must admit an open bed truck would have been a better choice, but how often do you haul stuff like that? 

Personally, I’m very happy to have vehicles that don’t have any payments, so there’s that. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Weird Roots

My lovely wife finished planting the last of the garden yesterday. She happened to dig up a small bucket of last year’s sunchokes. (formerly known as Jerusalem artichokes.) 

I cleaned them up, diced the roots, then fried them in olive oil with mushrooms. They were pretty tasty. 

If you ever plant sunchokes you have to be sure you want them. They are almost impossible to get rid of once established. That’s fine. I like having an emergency food supply that thrives on poor soil and neglect. 

Storing them long term can be a problem. Unlike white potatoes you can’t just dig them up and expect them to last. However, they can be sliced up and dehydrated. Usually those end up in soups and stews. 

Leaving them right in the ground works. Worse come to worse it’s a hidden food source that could be dug up in the middle of the winter. 


Monday, May 27, 2024

Mad Max Season

The off road vehicles are back. Over 1000 miles of trails are available from here in the North Country of New Hampshire. 

One of the big shocks for people new to the area are seeing all the ATVs on public streets. It’s totally legal in many communities around here. When you see a whole line of these tooling down the road it’s like something out of Mad Max. Some are more Mad Max than others, with tools and gas cans strapped all over, big whip antennas, and numerous flags flying. Coat with a nice layer of road dust and all you need is a flame thrower guitar for the full effect.

Most people who come up to ride are pretty decent. They should have three things: mirrors, mufflers, and manners. Mirrors so they can see who’s coming up from behind them. Mufflers so as not to be a loud annoyance. Manners -because manners are always good. 

Sadly, we also have people getting hurt or killed every season. Usually it’s speed, inexperience or alcohol causing the issues. Sometimes a combination of all three. 

This is the start of the silly season. It could be interesting.


Friday, May 24, 2024

Power Outage Update

My local power company sent an email explaining the power outage we had the other day. They claim it was caused by tree limbs falling on wires. 

That makes sense. A lot of trees were damaged over the winter. Instead of light fluffy snow we got a lot of freezing rain and heavy wet snow. A good percentage of those trees will never recover. On top of that we had some high winds. 

Speaking of high winds we had an amazing thunderstorm blow through yesterday. The weather app showed lightning strikes zero miles away. The weather map display was a very tight grouping of lightning strikes -all around my house. 

Much to my surprise we didn’t lose grid power or even Internet during the storm. Luck of the draw, I guess.


Thursday, May 23, 2024

Power Outage

So for some strange reason about 1700 residents lost grid power in my neck of the woods. It was a  beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the 80s. That’s actually pretty warm for this time of the year. I’m not acclimated to the warm temps yet. During the outage I was sitting under my ceiling fan drinking a cold lemonade. It’s good to have solar battery backup. 

Other parts of the country are much hotter and also dealing with power outages. There’s a lot of severe weather happening across the country. I hope things calm down by next week. My lovely wife is flying down to Houston Texas to deal with some family issues. She’ll be staying with her sister.

So far their Houston suburb has not loss power, was missed by tornadoes, and wasn’t flooded. Other family members in Texas were dealing with power outages and flooding. Houston is basically a city built in a swamp. 

The funny thing is that the local lakes are still pretty cold. On yesterday’s scooter ride my path went past a big lake. The air temperature dropped a good 10 or 15 degrees by the water. The cool air was welcome as I ride with a heavy jacket on. It’s a bit hot, but I’d be happy to have it on if I dumped the bike. Also, there’s all the freaking bugs this time of year. You really don’t want to hit a bumble bee at 60 wearing a T-shirt. 

Eventually the grid came back on so that was nice -if not totally necessary.


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Camp Stoves

I must admit I’m kinda attracted to those nifty little backpacking stoves that screw on top of an iso-butane canister. Don’t tell my lovely wife. She’s probably right when she says I’ve already got plenty of camping stoves.

Maybe she’s onto something as I’m really not sure how many I actually have. Some are almost as old as I am. My dad had one of those two burner Coleman stoves that were very popular. Dad’s probably dates back to the 50s. It’s mine now and has been restored. Still works perfectly fine. To go along with that are three or four single burner Coleman white gas or multi-fuel stoves. 

My collection includes a couple of Whisperlite stoves with assorted repair kits. One of them was used for months burning nothing but gasoline mixed with two cycle oil. My sailboat had a two stroke outboard so there was plenty of mixed gas. I wasn’t going to use special fuel just for cooking. All my cooking was done in the open cockpit so if the flame was slightly dirty it didn’t matter. About once a month the stove had to be disassembled and the soot cleaned out. 

Then I’ve got a couple of propane stoves. One was given to me by a German couple who were on their last day of camping in the US. They weren’t going to take it on the plane and I don’t think the fuel is available in Germany. While the propane stoves burn fairly cleanly the one pound bottles can get expensive if you cook a lot. 

One of the odder things I have is a knock off of a Kelly Kettle. It’s a very light weight backpacker version. They heat water by burning twigs and the heat goes up a chimney in the middle. Surrounding the chimney is a water jacket. Mine heats about 2 cups of water. It works well and is pretty much free to fuel. 

When I go scooter camper later this summer I’ll probably bring along one of the small multi-fuel stoves. Since I always carry spare gas on the scooter it’ll be easy to use. 

While those iso-butane stoves are compact, I don’t really need one. Then there’s the fact I really don’t need a completely different fuel system. What I really really don’t need is to tick off the lovely wife. 


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Off-Grid Longevity

So you have a nice off-grid homestead with all the bells and whistles. That’s great. It will serve you well during a whole range of disasters. When other people are starving in the dark you can be sitting under a fan drinking smoothies while watching a movie. Nice. 

A few days, weeks, or at worse months later most things will probably be back to normal. The question is, what if things do not go back to normal? Nobody can last forever at a high technology level on their own. Stuff breaks and life gets more difficult. 

Let’s say a disaster goes on for years. What if you can’t replace a water pump that suddenly dies. Do you have a whole backup pump? Maybe you do. Do you have total backup parts and systems for everything that can go wrong? That’s pricey and eventually the backups fail too. You’ve bought, at great cost, some time, but everything breaks down. 

You might find that backup parts are defective right out of the box. Rather than spend money on quality control some companies plan to just replace items if people complain of failures. That does you no good in a crisis. 

Pumps break. Solar electric components burn out. Septic systems fail. Trees fall on your greenhouse. Stuff happens all the time, but when stores are closed and services canceled you are on your own.

Then it’s important to know lower tech ways of living. Can you get water with nothing more complicated than a bucket? Do you have durable hand tools that can replace power tools? Do you have a composting toilet or know how to site and build an outhouse? Basically, can you live like your forefathers of hundreds of years ago? Even then they were usually able to get manufactured goods and outside supplies. Maybe we’d have to live like Native Americans. Of course, for that to work, you need a tribe with a deep knowledge base. 

Just some thoughts.


Monday, May 20, 2024

Adult Friendship

Recently I was reading about how difficult it is to make friends as an adult. It’s also expensive. People these days tend to meet during activities. Most of these cost money: gym memberships, clubs, educational programs and hobbies. With the world operating mostly in cyberspace meeting in person takes extra effort.

It doesn’t help that in these post-pandemic years a lot of people are staying home. Avoiding people has become a habit. Young people who came of age during those years never developed the social skill sets needed to make new friends. At least they are back in school and have the opportunity to meet their peers. However, some have a lot of catching up to do and not much time left to do it. 

Those can be life long friends. I still have friends I met during my school years. It took some work to stay in touch when we all scattered to the four winds after graduation. However, eventually a few moved back to town and others are within reasonable driving distance. 

Another thing I noticed is the large number of young adults with crippling social anxiety. Just the thought of meeting strangers can cause bad reactions and physical symptoms. That certainly hampers making new friends. 

One place we don’t meet anymore, especially in New England, is at church. That used to be the center of a lot of people’s social circles. In my region church membership is way down.

What we lack is what’s known as a “third space.” That’s some public space that’s not work or home. The article lamented that free public gathering spaces aren’t that common. There are some options popping up that are either free or inexpensive. My wife’s church opened a free coffee shop in the basement of their church. It’s secular with no concern about a person’s religion. The idea is to get the community to come together. Finally after a number of months it’s taking off. There are even some local musicians who show up with their instruments. Too bad it’s just open one day a week.

Those of us in the Boomer generation used to get together at each other’s houses. Recently some of us have been gathering for campfires now that the weather is decent. Sitting around the fire, talking and burning a few marshmallows is a pleasant and cheap night out. I was happy with the gathering we had the other night. 

Having adult friends is good for one’s mental health. It also doesn’t hurt to have someone to call for help in an emergency. 


Friday, May 17, 2024

Solar Electric Durability

My home grown solar electric system is over thirty years old. After thirty years it’s a bit like the old timer who had the same ax for fifty years. He changed the handle six times and the head twice. 

I get about ten years out of a set of deep discharge lead acid batteries. Maybe the next time the price of better technology batteries will come down to earth. That’s a story I tell myself every ten years or so. 

The charge controller was changed about a decade ago. I’d expanded the solar array a bit and decided to double the nominal voltage. It went from 24 to 48 volts for better efficiency. The Outback charge controller allowed the system to easily step down from the 48 volts at the panel to the 24 volts of the battery bank. 

Last year I changed the inverter to a true sine wave inverter. The old modified sine wave inverter was still working but was starting to show its age. Also the new inverter worked better with electronics and LED lights. 

The original eight solar panels are working just fine. They just quietly keep putting out electricity with zero maintenance. 

Yesterday it looked like my original voltage meter died. That’s wired from the battery bank in the basement to a meter mounted on the wall in my kitchen. The meter makes it easy to monitor the voltage in the batteries. As it turned out a wire had come loose. After it was reconnected the meter came back to life. I wish all repairs were that quick, cheap and easy.


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Heavy Metal Tools

My cousin has a top notch wood shop with all the expensive toys. We were talking and I happened to mention that my little table saw finally gave up the ghost. It was time to replace it but even crappy ones can be pricey. 

He happened to know someone who had a table saw to give away. He said it was a “portable” saw. I  guess it is -if you have the strength of Sasquatch. It took the two of us to load it in the back of my Escape. The seats had to be folded down to get it in. The saw is all steel and cast iron. 

It also runs really well. The saw could use a new drive belt and maybe a new blade. However, even as is the saw is more capable than the one it replaces. It’s a real find. After I unload it in the morning I’m going to look for the brand name. If it’s like most tools from that time the name is probably cast right into it somewhere. 

My cousin has quite a collection of classic heavily built tools he uses all the time. Lucky for me he already has a couple massive saws in his shop and didn’t need this one. 


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Navigation Learning Curve

I’ve been working on my navigation options for long distance scooter rides. Garmin had a nice price on their motorcycle Zumo gps so it’s what I settled on. The reviews are pretty good. There’s a steep learning curve. 

The box comes with a basic manual and a site link to download the full manual. That was my starting point. It helped to watch a bunch of YouTube videos. While that’s great but at some point it’s necessary to do a field trial.

There was a predicted gap in the rain so it gave me a chance to go for a ride. One of things I needed to work out was gpx route files -never used those before. It’s a bit different from turn by turn directions as it’s basically just a line on the map. To practice I downloaded some gpx files from the Backwoods Discovery Routes. The New Hampshire and Maine sections are near me and so those were the files downloaded and the route my trip took. 

There’s a lot of apps and programs for navigation. Many can generate gpx files. However, I was able to just download the gpx files from the BDR website. Then it was a simple matter of using a USB cable to connect the Garmin with my computer. After that it was just dragging and dropping files. 

All this fancy satellite navigation is fine, but I’m still a fan of paper maps. 


Monday, May 13, 2024

Trips to town

How far out in the woods should you live? Some preppers have dreams of living in a remote cabin far from everything. That’s great, but it’s not a place to raise your kids. At least it wasn’t for us. 

My dad had a hunting camp about nine miles up a dirt road. Then you had to make your way down a semi-abandoned fire road for about a quarter mile. When the conditions were right it was possible to drive right to the camp. There were many times when that was impossible. Sometimes that main dirt road was closed completely. Often it was closed at the six mile mark and we had to hike in the rest of the way. Often the only way to “drive” there was on a snowmobile.

While that was a great bug out place, it wasn’t handy for day to day living. My lovely wife had a minimum civilization standard. We had to be on a paved road that was maintained in winter. There was a school bus stop within walking distance for the kids. 

There are no highways near me and we are a few miles away from what passes as main road here. While we aren’t really isolated, we aren’t on the way to anywhere either. Live is full of little compromises. 

By the way, I did get into town and the hardware store had a water pressure switch in stock so I picked that up as backup.


Sunday, May 12, 2024

Quick and easy water

Even if everything electrical fails I still have access to good water. It’s just a matter of walking down to the well and getting a bucket of water. That’s great in an emergency. The thing is, water is about eight and a third pounds per gallon. It’s a lot of work to haul water by hand.

That’s why pumps were invented. Unfortunately they don’t last forever. Mine was definitely on its way out. Pressure was dropping, which is a bad sign. Like most of my household infrastructure my water supply system is custom. It’s a shallow well but I use a deep well submersible pump. 

It used to have a nice little shallow well pump that sat next to the well. That was fine when it was a summer cottage. When we moved in full time my quick and dirty winter fix was to build a little heated pump house. That worked until the heater failed and everything froze. By switching to a submersible pump I didn’t have to worry about the pump freezing ever again. 

When I pulled the old submersible pump from the well it was rusty in places and that’s not supposed to happen. It was a sure sign something was failing. 

It took a little trial and error to get everything dialed in but now we have decent water pressure and volume again. 

The water supply is in pretty good shape now. However, I think I’m going to buy a replacement pressure switch in case the old one fails. My guess is that it would be the next part to wear out. It’s best to have that on standby.


Saturday, May 11, 2024

Solar Storms are Inconvenient

By inconvenient I mean we could be knocked back to the 18th century -or even earlier. As I write this we are currently being hit by a sizable storm. If you are reading this you are probably not doing too badly. The more we rely on electronics and electricity the harder losing them will be. So lets hope it’s not too bad. 

However, if you are experiencing bad Internet connections, cell phone issues, gps, and grid problems the solar storm is why. It’s supposed to last through the weekend. It hit about 6 hours sooner than expected so don’t expect prediction accuracy. 

I hope we get through this solar cycle without too much damage. After all I just got my Internet back up and purchased a new cell phone. It would be a shame if I couldn’t use them. Of course, the whole collapse of modern civilization would be a bit awkward too.


Thursday, May 9, 2024

Internet Intermission

The Internet at the Sixbears household had been down for days. It has finally been repaired. My brand new modem from the new provider failed in about a month. I hope that's the end of connection problems for a bit. 

During the outage we had some important on-line business. We accomplished all the important stuff on the cell phone hotspot but soon after the phone hit the hotspot data limit. 

It's nice to have the Internet back, but it was also kinda nice to be off-line for a while.


Monday, May 6, 2024

Shed my skin

Healing can be such an interesting process. I spent a week in the hospital with a nasty leg infection. Eventually the intravenous antibiotics did the job. The oozing mess of my lower leg dried up. 

Since then it’s been a rather itchy business of massive scabs flaking off. I actually have to sweep the floor in my office to clean up the mess. It’s pretty gross. However the healing is coming along. Overdoing it right now is a real concern. Keeping my leg elevated is part of the healing. I have to plan plenty of breaks in my day. That’s an issue as I’m feeling well enough that it would be very easy to overdue it. 

Now I’m working with my doctor to put together a plan to prevent these infections from happening in the future. One of the things is sticking to a weight loss plan. So far I’ve taken off about 25 pounds. My doctor recommended I get into the local weight loss clinic. It’s a paperwork nightmare. After filing out the forms my hand cramped up pretty badly at the end. It’s taken a couple weeks and might take weeks more to get into the clinic. In the mean time I’m losing weight on my own. 

Funny thing about me and bureaucracy. My tolerance is limited and small rebellions creep in. On the form where it asks for race I write: human. That might be a bit of a stretch but I’m sticking to it.


Sunday, May 5, 2024

Campfire season

It took a few years but a good friend finally had a bunch of us over for a campfire. Life gets busy. 

However, it’s something we want to do a lot more of. We have some snacks, good conversation, and some homemade music. Sure beats the heck out of watching TV. 

If you don’t make the effort to get together it just won’t happen. Then the only time we’d get to see each other is at funerals. We are looking to make this a weekly thing, weather permitting -and it has to be pretty nasty weather to prevent us from a good campfire. 

We were getting together at John Little Wolf’s place. Since he passed the tradition will continue at other places. We are expanding it to more people too. Tribe is important.  


Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Highwaymen - Highwayman

My favorite reincarnation song. 

Our adventures continue.


Friday, May 3, 2024

That Strange Plumber Guy

That would be me. The plumbing in my basement is very visible. It looks like the History of plumbing down there. New materials have been added over the years. Several types of plumbing have been discontinued. Repairs and additions can be problematic. Sometimes the new stuff doesn’t fit with the old stuff. 

Then there’s stuff that isn’t like any normal house. For example my water heater is no longer in the basement. It’s hidden in a closet on the first floor. Why? That’s so I can hook it up to a water coil on the  kitchen woodstove and get a decent amount of BTUs from burning wood. 

Another odd thing is my pressure tank. In normal houses they’d be found on the basement floor. Mine is suspended just below the basement ceiling. That was to protect it from freezing. Cold sinks. Heat rises. Mounting the tank high keeps it where it’s warm.

Unfortunately my mounting rack suffered some rot over the years. Yesterday I had to drain everything, jack the tank back up and rebuild the rack. It was a pain. I got wet and annoyed but the job got done. 

While down there I noticed one of my water filter housings has developed a leak. Something in the built in shut off is failing. That’s the next project. 

After that I’m going to pop the cover off the well and inspect the pump and everything else down there. 

All part of the joys of being a home owner with a DIY bent. At least everything held together until spring. Playing with water in the winter is no fun at all. 


Wednesday, May 1, 2024


Tornadoes aren’t much of an issues here in Northern New Hampshire. Sure, we get the occasional twister but they aren’t too huge and don’t last very long in the mountains. While not bi it’s a far cry from when I was a kid and “we just don’t get tornadoes in New Hampshire.” 

However, my lovely wife and I have relatives and friends in tornado alley. We follow the news and our ears really perk up when we start to recognized the names of the towns affected. So far our people have been safe. There’s more tornadoes on the way.

Unlike something like a hurricane tornadoes pop up with little warning. If all goes well you only really have seconds to get under cover. If it was me I’d have a full blown tornado shelter if I lived in that area. The destructive force of a such a storm is nothing to take lightly. People die.

Some years ago a friend lived in trailer on some rural land in Kentucky. Some NH friends and I stopped in for a visit. The guy showed us his storm shelter. It was made of reinforced concrete and was sunk into the side of a hill. He had emergency supplies -a half gallon of whiskey and a half gallon of vodka. I guess you might as well have a few drinks if your house is being blown away.