Friday, July 3, 2015

iPad Holder Prototype #1 for the Roadrunner

I have been thinking about an iPad holder so I could use Google Maps while I drive.  

Last summer Adam built a little aluminum frame with magnets to hold his iPad mini on the dash of his car.  Using that same general idea, I looked for many months for a solution that would work for us in the Roadrunner.  I decided to build something similar to what he did.

First I had to get all the pieces together which were in three parts:
  1. A flexible arm strong enough to hold a frame and my iPad
  2. An iPad 'holder' that I could mount with flexible arm  
  3. Some way to fasten the iPad frame and arm without drilling holes into our wood console or doing damage to the dash
Here's what I came up with as my first prototype:
The flexible arm:
I picked this up at a nick-nack discount gadget store near Murfreesboro TN that was full of gadgets.
I liked this because it had a nut at the top of the arm near the magnifying glass and also had a nut down on the other end for the clamp.  This was what I needed to secure the iPad frame at one end and then screw the bolt into the platform I built for the cupholder.

At first I wasn't sure how to make this 'flex arm' strong enough for the frame and holder but I knew it had potential.

What I ended up doing to 'stiffen' the flexible arm was to liberally use electrical tape and tightly wind  it around the entire length of the arm.  It still wasn't tight enough so I put a layer of good old duct tape around the length of the arm.  I still wasn't quite stiff enough so I wound another layer of electrical tape on top.  That gave me three layers of tape which ended up to be perfect.  It had enough stiffness to hold the frame and the iPad.

Next, the frame:
I used Adam's solution of aluminum 'angle bar' that I picked up at Home Depot and cut to size.
A hack saw and 4" x 4" scrap piece was good support while I cut the pieces.

I used my Dremel to sand down the edges.

I found some metal on metal epoxy that I used to glue it together and clamps to hold things in place.
I let it dry for a couple of days.  But the angles and corners were not holding to well so I found small screws and nuts to fasten the corners.  Those small screws and nuts were key to keeping the sides in place.  The epoxy did not work.
I also cut two cross pieces for the back drilled a larger whole in the middle for the end of the flexible arm to bolt to the frame.  I used some extra velcro to put over the in sides of the frame so the iPad wouldn't get scratched.  

Lastly I needed to Secure it to dash/console cupholder:

It took two pieces, one of which you can't see very well.
I slid the first piece of wood for the bottom of the cupholder.  Then I cut out a round piece the side of the cuphole and drilled a hole through the center for the other end of the flexible arm to go through.  
I screwed the end of the flexible arm to the bottom piece of wood in the cupholder.  Next, I drilled three holes into the top round pieced for three screws into the wood and fastened it all together.

It looks like I didn't do any photos for the wood base and the circular attachment in the cupholder.  But here is the finished product.
I was pretty excited about using this!  It worked well and opened up a whole new world for me.  As the primary driver I don't often get to see where we are along the route.  Now I can by pulling up Google maps and 'Directions' from our starting point to our destination for the day.

We used this prototype on our trip from Virginia Beach all the way to Oklahoma City.  It was functional and adequate, but I knew it wasn't the final product.   

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Time in Zion National Park

To help me remember a lot of the places we have been in the last six weeks, I found this map that helps.
In the middle of the map is Mt Carmel which is where we stayed.
From there we went to Zion National Park five times.

The first day we arrived at our campground in the mid-afternoon.  We decided on a game plan of getting up early and driving the 12 miles over to the Visitor Center at Zion which is near the 'far' entrance on the outskirts of the town of Springdale.
We were on our way and out the door before 7:00 AM and the gate to Zion was not yet manned.
We entered at the East Entrance scenery was immediately struck by the beauty of the park.
I took a few photos along the way but the first time in the park we wanted to get to the Visitor Center and ride the shuttle through the Canyon.
We rode the entire length of the Canyon to the Temple of Sinewawa.  We then got off and took a short hike up to the Narrows and Slot Canyon.  
It was cool, the trail was well maintained and it was a leisurely walk.  Since it was fairly early in the morning, we almost had the place to ourselves for a while.   
After our  hike, we boarded the shuttle and then got off on every stop on the way back down.  We tried to look around and take some pictures absorb some of it.  It was really something at every stop.
Weeping Rock, the Grotto, Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge -- there is really a lot to see.

On another day, we drove over to St. George UT and did some shopping.  The quickest way there was through Zion so we enjoyed that.  We also spent some time in Springdale and had lunch at an outdoor cafe.
The town is a bit trendy with lots of upscale motels and it reminded me a little bit of Sedona, AZ.

On thing I want to remember is the Mt Carmel Motel and RV where we stayed.  It was a quaint little place with 7 motel rooms for rent and the campground next to it with 8 sites.  They were a little tight but I liked the place, the price and the friendly people we met there.
Right next to us were a foursome from the Buffalo, NY area.  And I met Paul and his family from Pennsylvania.  They had a bit of a reunion with family, some of whom stayed at the motel so it was very convenient.
Our last visit to Zion, Pam dropped me off near the Museum and she went down to the Visitor Center.  She then took a hike along the river while I rode up to the top of the Canyon to the Temple of Sinewawa.
It was all uphill from the start, but it was very pretty.  I enjoyed the ride back to the Visitor Center a little more.

This was our first trip to Zion and I hope we get the chance to come back.  There is way more to do there and it is one of our favorites.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Spot in Rocky Mountain National Park area

We are currently at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park and plan to be here for the next seven days.
Our site backs up to the fast flowing Big Thompson River

We drove 300 miles earlier today from our spot in Fruita, Colorado just outside of Grand Junction.  The good news is, the Roadrunner made it over the mountain without any issues.  It was slow at times and I hate all those miles cresting the mountain up and down from Eisenhower Tunnel but we did it and we are here.
The other good news is that it is a bit cloudy here and we have some relief from the 100+degree weather we have been having in Moab, UT and over in Fruita, CO.

I have started and not completed a number of posts from our travels in the last few months. Over the past few weeks we have seen a lot and taken loads of pictures.  We've found that our wifi/internet has been spotty often out in Utah 'off the beaten path'.  That is usually OK, but it just means I have more to catch up on when I have a good signal.

Other times, when we return to the Roadrunner after a day trip somewhere, I have not been as timely as I'd like to post pictures and a write up on what we did - so I am a little behind.  Which is a common blogger predicament?  That's my story on that and I'm sticking with it...

However, I do have a number of blog posts 'in the queque' that I am working on:

  1. Zion National Park Thoughts
  2. Seeing Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Petroglyphs National Park Outside of Albuquerque
  4. Pickin' and Grinin' - OKC Banjo Museum
  5. Roadrunner Reflections - 6 Years on the Road!
  6. Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell
  7. Gouldings Museum in Monument Valley
  8. Roadrunner iPad Holder Prototype 
  9. Roadrunner Front Dash/Tray Console
In fact I have 134 blog posts in 'draft' that I have yet to finish or have started and not completed.  I may never finish all of them off, but I am thinking I will get to these at least these nine (in no particular order), so stay tuned!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Four That Made Monument Valley Famous

I remember seeing pictures of Monument Valley long before I knew it was Monument Valley.  I suppose I saw images of its beauty in westerns and cowboy movies.  Not until this summer did I learn more about the place and how it became so well known.
When we visited a few weeks ago, I learned we get to enjoy this beautiful place because of the efforts of some key individuals that helped bring 'the West' into our homes:
  • Harry Goulding 
  • Josef Muench 
  • John Ford 
  • John Wayne 
Here are some brief notes of four people that made Monument Valley famous:

Harry Goulding was a veteran of World War I and was a sheep inspector for the U.S. government. It was during his time traveling through southwestern Colorado, southern Utah and Northern Arizona that he developed a love for Monument Valley, the Navajo people and the wide open spaces.

He married his girlfriend Leone (whom he called "Mike") in 1923 and they moved to Monument Valley.
Harry and 'Mike' Goulding - 1939
They were able to homestead 640 acres, became sheep herders and started Goulding's Trading Post.

With the Depression in the 1930's the hard life there got harder.  Harry heard that Hollywood director John Ford was looking for good locations to shoot Westerns.  Harry was down to his last $60 and decided to try to get John Ford to come to Monument Valley. In 1938, Harry and Mike went to Los Angeles with photographs of Monument Valley taken by Josef Muench. It was Muench's photographs that got Ford's attention and the director agreed to film in Monument Valley.

Josef Muench first saw Monument Valley in 1935 and was a professional photographer.  He and Harry Goulding became good friends during his many visits.
Photographer Josef Muench
At Harry's request he put together a collection of 8 x 10 photographs of the spectacular Monument Valley that Goulding showed to director John Ford.

Muench devoted his whole life to photography and loved Arizona.  He made over 160 visits to Monument Valley and over 200 to the Grand Canyon.  Later his photography was a centerpiece in Arizona Highways magazine where he worked over 50 years.  He also traveled extensively and photographed around the world:  Africa, Alaska, Asia, Canada, Colorado, Europe and Hawaii.  He said, "My camera is my constant companion"

John Ford was directing western movies when Harry Goulding found out that he was looking for some good locations.
Director John Ford
When John met Harry Goulding and saw his photographs of Monument Valley he was convinced it was a good place to film some Westerns.  A few weeks later, shooting began for the movie 'Stagecoach' in Monument Valley.  Hundreds of crew and support staff made their way to nearby Kayenta, AZ and Monument Valley, adding much needed income to the locals during the Depression stricken area.

John Wayne was Ford's choice in the starring role for his movie 'Stagecoach'.
John Wayne in 'Stagecoach'  
He was on location in Monument Valley for that and some other movies made there including 'Searchers' and 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.  'Stagecoach' was a hit and elevated John Wayne into stardom.  He had been on screen for nine years previously and his career was languishing among the lesser known 'B' movies.   

Now when I think of Monument Valley I will remember these people and their roles in its history.  In the museum at Goulding's Trading post, a note John Wayne wrote to Harry Goulding said something to the effect "We both know how much we owe to this place..."

And we owe a lot to them for helping us see more of the beauty and history of the West!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Some Time in the Arches National Park


The Arches National Park was great the first time we saw it and equally great to see this time around.  Last time we stayed at Dead Horse Point State Park but this time we stayed at Archview RV Resort and Campground Campground.
We got a site on the front row and could see the some arches in the distance which was very nice.  The campsite was in the newer area and even though we were a ways from the Office, the campground wifi worked great.  
Not sure what bug we picked up but for the first couple of days here near Moab, Pam and I both felt a little puny so we didn't get out and hike as much as we thought we would.  We did take a couple of rides through the National Park and stopped at the major photo observations points.

The Vistor's Center is another one of the first rate facilities.  It does a good job of providing some great information displays and has a top notch introduction / orientation video.
Lasal Mountains
Park Avenue
Balanced Rock
Turret Arch
North and South Window Arch
Double Arch
The Delicate Arch requires a bit of a hike and I went over early on Father's Day morning.  Early as in I left the Roadrunner before 5:00 AM and drove 40 minutes over to the trail head.  I was not alone on the trail before the sun came up.
It was dark, but there was still enough light to see the trail.
As I neared the trail end up near the Delicate Arch, I saw the early-early birds already there.
About 20 minutes before sunlight, I got to the top and snapped up some shots.

They say the best light bounces off Delicate Arch at sunset.  But I'm still glad I made the hike and got to see it in the morning.  It was a good way to start the day!

While see the Arches, we also went over the the National Park campground.  It definitely is not one for big rigs but looked like a great place for tents and smaller trailers and campers.
Camp Host Quarters
RV-Dreams founders Howard and Linda Payne were camp hosts here a number of years ago and it is where we first saw some intriguing pictures of this place.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!