Archives for posts with tag: blogpost

All photos: Nik Schulz

While driving past the Warehouse Bar & Grill near Jack London Square in Oakland a couple of months ago, I spied what I thought was a perfectly nice, WWII-era, Willys jeep. Upon talking to the owner, a gentleman named Eddie, I learned that it was actually a Ford GPW. W for Willys.

How did this combination come about? Well, back in the late 1930s, while the US government watched stability break down in Europe, it hurried to update its aging fleet motorcycles, sidecars, and, yes, Model T’s. By the summer of 1940, when they finally formalized their needs for a general-purpose utility vehicle, the war in Europe was already underway.

The Army, now feeling rushed, issued an impossible deadline: 49 days for a prototype and another 75 for pre-production examples. Only two companies took up the challenge, the American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland Motors. Of the two, only American Bantam, working furiously, was able to meet the deadline.

This jeep carries 48-star flag from days before Hawaii and Alaska joined the union.

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In Asia – Episode 1 – MALAYSIA from Vincent Urban on Vimeo.

My friend Greg just sent me a link to this outstanding travel video by Munich-based freelance filmmaker, Vincent Urban and Clemens Krüger. Part 1 of a five-part series, it shows three friends traveling through southeast Asia in a Land Rover Defender 110. There is hardly any narration, hardly any dialogue. Moments of the trip are just strung together like memories. It’s beautifully shot and edited and gets to the heart of why we all travel.

The first three in the series are already on Vimeo. See Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Thanks for the tip, Greg!


Photo: Flickr user, OpalMirror. Used under Creative Commons license.

There’s a Northern California HAM radio class on offer next month in the Sacramento Valley area. The class, sponsored by the Rubicon Trail Foundation, will take place on January 21st from 9:00am to 5:00pm and the test will be given on February 4th from 9:00am to about 2:00pm.

The cost of the class is $15 plus the cost of the book (ARRL Ham Radio License Manual, 2nd edition. published July 1 2010), which you’ll need to buy on your own after you register. The course instructors are adamant that you get this exact edition and publication date, as being able to follow along in the class depends on it.

Class participants will be offered group-rate prices on two radios, a Yaesu FT-60 portable and/or Yaesu FT-8800 mobile radio (the latter is pictured above).

Hat tip to Anthony for the info!

Here’s a link with info on how to register.


I spotted this heady mix of a motorcycle in San Francisco a while back. It looks like a vaguely Japanese heart beating in the frame of cafe-racing bobber, set up with knobbies and a long swingarm for hillclimbing.

I have no idea what it is but it’s awesome—much better than the sum of its originally far-flung parts. Hats off to whoever created this crazy thing.

I salute you!

Update: This bike is a highly modified Yamaha TW200.

The first assistant lighthouse keeper’s house at Point Cabrillo

Photo: Nik Schulz

Another spot we visited for a sense of Mendocino’s seafaring past was Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, which was established to ensure the safety of lumber schooners plying the coast. It seems to have arrived a little late on the scene, however, since it wasn’t built until 1909.

In 2004, the former lighthouse keepers’ residences were treated to period-sensitive renovations and repainted in the official U.S. Lighthouse Service colors. Yes, apparently there was an official U. S. Lighthouse Service color scheme, and it was a nice one too.

Not only do the residences look fantastic, you can actually stay in them. The main lighthouse keeper’s house and a couple of cottages can be rented by the night or two. The 4 bdrm/4 bath Main House currently runs about $400–$500/night. The 1 bdrm cottages (East Cottage and West Cottage) can be had for a moderate $144/night. Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Nik Schulz

Last week I whisked my girlfriend, Natalie, away for a few days on the Mendocino coast. We’d read about a couple of nice places to stay and went up to have a look around.

In its current incarnation, Mendocino is mostly known for its new-age outlook, its hippies (which are locally avaialable in both M-series-BMW-driving and gritty-original flavors), and, according to Natalie, for a dried-seaweed snack known as “Sea Crunchies.” What is perhaps lesser known is Mendocino’s swarthy, seafaring past.

Why seafaring? One word: Timber. The town took off in the 1850s when the Gold Rush triggered a huge building boom. Money flowing down from the Sierras built San Francisco (and rebuilt it again after the 1906 earthquake) with the help of a billion board-feet of redwood taken from the nearby Big River watershed. Most of it left by sea and the remains of this seafaring history can still be seen today.

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This 1957 Chevrolet Crew Cab 4×4 (spotted on Bring a Trailer) is another beautiful example of a rare, period-custom truck. According to the seller it started life as a 1-ton pick-up and was then converted by Oreville Metal Specialty Company in Ohio into a single-rear-door crew cab. The truck features a 6-cylinder engine, floor-mounted manual transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The NAPCO 4×4 system, previously a custom conversion, became a factory available option starting in 1957. The truck was restored in 1997 and has hardly been driven since.

The ebay auction ended this morning with a $20,101 bid that did not meet reserve. You’ve still got a chance…

Update: Maybe not… ebay states seller ended auction because “item is no longer available.”

Here’s the Bring a Trailer link.
Here’s the ebay link.

For more information on NAPCO check this link.

And finally a link about Orrville Metal Specialty Company

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Last month I went to the Overland Rally in Hollister, CA, a weekend of classes, camping, and overland community, where travel, vehicle prep, driving, and navigation were all on topic. For example…

On international travel: if you’re traveling through a town and you don’t see any women or children, something is wrong. That said, the world is a pretty safe place and trouble is usually highly localized and easily avoided.

On vehicle prep: the most important change you can make on a vehicle is tires. Select ones that are suited to the environment in which you’ll be driving. For example, mud terrain tires work in mud but not on asphalt and snow.

On navigation: if you end up lost, stop. Figure out where you are (by plotting your GPS coordinates on a map or using a compass to triangulate your position from known points); make a plan; and proceed by dead reckoning (traveling a certain distance, on a known heading, from a known position) or by plotting GPS coordinates every few miles. Precision is the key. An error of a few millimeters on the map can translate into a few thousand feet on the trail. When following your compass, don’t forget to account for magnetic deviation (the difference between magnetic north and true north). Read the rest of this entry »


Photo: Greg MacDonald

After Twain’s first, large-scale, Western ruckus, his audience began to grow, as did his reputation. By 1864 he was honing his craft by writing 4,000-word political dispatches five days a week from Carson City. So much for not liking work.

In 1865 his story “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” submitted too late for inclusion in an anthology of Western writing, was instead published in New York’s Saturday Press. It exploded. Within in no time the tale of the jumping frog with the belly full of lead had appeared in newspapers across the U.S. and Europe.

He had stepped onto the world stage.

As we stepped out into the morning at Trumbull Lake, the sun cracked across 12,280 ft. Dunderberg Peak, a wall of loose rock, towering a good 3,000 ft. above our campsite. We’d completely missed seeing it in the dark the night before.

Prior to 1878 this pile of 100-million-year-old granite was known as Castle Peak. Here’s how Twain described it:

At the end of a week we adjourned to the Sierras on a fishing excursion, and spent several days in camp under snowy Castle Peak, and fished successfully for trout in a bright, miniature lake whose surface was between ten and eleven thousand feet above the level of the sea; cooling ourselves during the hot August noons by sitting on snow banks ten feet deep, under whose sheltering edges fine grass and dainty flowers flourished luxuriously; and at night entertaining ourselves by almost freezing to death.

Mark Twain, Roughing It, Chapter 39

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Photo: Greg MacDonald

When we last left Mark Twain he was slaughtering passers-by in the pages of the Territorial Enterprise. He wrote a similar story in the fall of 1863 meant to shame financiers for artificially inflating stock prices—yes, it happened back then too—and to embarrass San Francisco newspapers for their complicity.

Entitled “The Massacre at Empire City,” it told the story of a man who, in seeing no way out of a huge financial scandal (think 19th-century Enron), committed suicide after gruesomely murdering his wife and most of their nine children.

Twain intended it as satire but big-city papers reprinted the piece as fact, too caught up in the grisly details to catch the finer, cautionary tale. When he recanted the whole thing, cries for Mark Twain’s head could be heard up and down the west coast. Shocked, Twain offered to resign from the paper. “Nonsense,” his editor replied, “We can furnish the people with news, but we can’t supply them with sense.”

In making his first real mark on the West, Twain had, to his amazement, discovered the power of the media.

At our camp in the Bodie Hills, Greg had discovered the power of a wonky stomach. Marinated chicken and my lack of ice-chest due diligence had been the culprits. Back at Desert Creek I had grilled chicken. Natalie warned that it might not have survived the thaw. It had tasted fine but I spit it out anyway. Greg passed too, after swallowing a bite. That simple italics made all the difference. Now in the Bodie Hills he made excursions into the sagebrush with shovel in hand. Read the rest of this entry »