Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New $44 Backpack

I've been wanting a new backpack since last fall, but since it was not really a "need", I wisely procrastinated. However, The Sierra Trading Post won me over with an unbelievable deal; $44 for a 65 litre High Sierra Sentinel Pack. I read several detailed reviews (another one here) before buying it sight unseen, but I think it will fit the bill. I actually ordered two. Last night I filled one with my sleeping bag, tent, cookware, food etc, just to see if it can "swallow the load". It seems to have most of the popular features: separate sleeping bag compartment, hydration bladder ready, nice padded hip-belt, lots of compression straps, adjustable torso etc.  It's supposed retail price is $220 but STP's regular price was $99. At a $44 "steal" they are now of course sold out.
I Did have to pay $25 shipping, $10 duty (textiles), and GST. So the price was more like $60 each...still a good steal. Now all that's left is to get off my fat "rusty dusty" and actually use it :)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Switching to Glide...

My Volkswagen Camper has been hibernating for much of the winter, but it has been anything but "idle". At the hands of Jeff's Old Volks Home it now has a new Rad, new front shocks, new gas tank vent hoses, undercoating, brakes, exhaust, AND for the biggest change of all: It went in a 4-speed standard, and came out a 3-speed automatic ! Yes it's true, no more clutch. The reasons behind this are many, but the biggest was said mechanic wanted my standard and made me an offer I could not refuse. I've had it for a couple of weeks and I'm so glad. Perhaps I'm getting old, but in the city a standard is a real pain, especially in such an anemic brick as the Van. Of course swapping my "almost 300,000km" standard for a fresh rebuilt automatic is wise on many fronts. It's the same transmission found on 80's Audi's, and is said to be quite robust. One flaw in the Vanagon implementation, however, is the transmission cooler; A unit prone to age failure (aren't we all) and expensive to replace. On the advice of my mechanic, I had a somewhat passive "heat sink" cooler installed. In the original VW design, failure meant transmission fluid and coolant mixing, with catastrophic results. I still have lots to do to get ready for the season, but I'm off to a good start.
Transmission Cooler (blue hoses)
Not bad for 25 years old...

Winter Reprieve

Over the last 12 months, I've taken off in an airplane 50 times, from 16 different airports. From normal sounding names like Toronto an...

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