Monday, May 30, 2011

Broken Paddle

Here's the damage that was done to my paddle on the camping trip the other weekend.

My broken paddle

I picked up another beavertail paddle and a bent-shaft wide-bladed paddle to replace it. Now I just need to figure out what to do with a broken paddle.

Day Trip - Burden Lake

So the weather finally cooperated today, and I decided to head out for a few hour paddle to a lake that's not far from here called 'Burden Lake'.

View Burden Lake Paddle - 2011-05-30 in a larger map

I'd done my recon (using google maps) to find a parking spot where I could launch the canoe nearby, and it worked out perfectly. There was a nice big crushed stone area to park, and a couple access points on a small road.

Parking and launch

Just after I got there some other people showed up and started doing some fishing. I had to pardon myself and squeeze past the one guy to get in the water. Was a little awkward.

The launch point was a bit boggy. With that stinky-ass water you get in a marshy bay. That was really my only complaint. The parking was excellent and the people around seemed nice enough.

I paddled around a little bit in the bay, coming across a bunch of fish nests underwater. It was really neat to watch them chase each other around to defend their nests.

I probably saw more fish today than most times I go out. Maybe it was the time of year, but I saw everything from tiny minnows to large bass cruising around.

I came across a little inlet stream running into a secluded bay, so I decided to paddle up it a bit.

The little river

It was pretty neat, just wide enough for the canoe and pretty grown in. I didn't go in too far, since I realized I was picking up a large number of hitchhikers (spiders, grubs, crazy bugs). I stopped for a bit to squish spiders and whistle at a red-winged blackbird that was going nuts chirping at me. I must have been near his nest or something.

Red Winged Blackbird

Getting out of the little stream was harder than getting in, it seemed like all the branches were pointing in the opposite direction, but I eventually made it.

The big reward of my little side-trip was seeing an absolutely HUGE snapping turtle digging itself into the mud on the way out. I couldn't get the camera out in time, but he was probably at least two feet across.

After that little interlude I paddled up the lake, slipping through a culvert and under a bridge.

A dank dark tunnel

It was extremely nice weather, so people were out on the lake. There was quite a bit of traffic for a lake of that size, which surprised me.

I stopped on the side of the road where there was a nice little landing to stretch my legs, eat some of the sandwich I'd brought, and go for a quick swim. The water was WAY warmer today than it was when I went camping last weekend. It was very comfortable.

Gone for a swim.

After that I paddled down the other side of the lake. This side of the lake was a lot less populated for some reason (it seemed a lot steeper, and I think it was much more rocky).

I passed by a deer carcass in the water, which was really surprising. I would have expected that snapping turtle to be there instead of the other side of the lake :).

Oh noes!

I pretty much continued around the lake and back to the place where I put in my canoe in.

As a side note, I tried using the new bent-shaft paddle I picked up to replace the one I broke last weekend. It is really nice, giving quite a bit of power. It's a little more difficult to J-stroke with though, since the bend reduces the amount of leverage you get for the correction part of the stroke. I'm still really happy with it though, and it got more use today than my other straigh-shaft paddle.


All in all, an extremely nice day. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze, and the water was warm and clear.

Looking up the lake

The full set of pictures from the day are available here.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I went out for the first canoe/camping trip of the season this weekend. I wanted to go someplace that wasn't too far since I wasn't sure about the weather and the water temp. Overall it was pretty awesome.

I used a different program for recording my track, and I think it fucked up and I lost my data. I re-mapped the approximate path I took though:

View Big Bay Camping Trip - 2011 in a larger map

I brought a little book and took notes at various points throughout the day. I found it is nice to have a place to take little notes, and it makes writing these posts a lot easier.


2:00 pm
I just arrived at the put-in. The water is a bit more... Energetic than I'd like. There a man-made dam here, and the water is flowing quite vigorously.


My original plan was to go downstream and camp at Spy Lake, but I think the water is a little too fast for that right now. I don't know if I'd be able to make it back up the river to the launch point without walking the boat, and the water is too cold for that.

Instead, I think I will go into Big Bay (the other way, West instead of East down the river) and head for one of the sites there. It's much closer to the launch point, but I think it will be OK.

I tried going to another entrance to Spy Lake marked on the map, but there was a closed gate with a 'No Trespassing' sign posted.


Also, apparently I've wandered into eastern Europe.


Time to unload and get the canoe in the water.


Loaded Up
Saw a garter snake, couldn't get the camera out in time. Also there were a few Turkey Vultures soaring around. I'm still at the launch point getting things into the canoe, which requires a short walk since the access point is across the road.


About 90% of the way down the bay right now.

I stopped at BB1 and BB2 to take a brief look at the campsites from the canoe. BB1 looks pretty good, but is a little close to the launch point for my taste.


It's an absolutely phenomenal day here. There's almost no wind at all, it's nice and sunny at the moment and I have the whole bay to myself.

Animal sightings:
  • 4 more turkey vultures
  • 1 newt (when I stopped to pickup some trash near the BB2 campsite)
  • 1 Beaver (near the put-in)
  • 2 loons
My plan now is to head to the BB3 campsite and setup, maybe grab a snack. Then I might paddle north to the main lake to see what it's like up there.

BB3 from the water

I kind of want to check out the state campground I know is up there, but it's hard to get moving since it's so nice here on the lake.

Maybe I'll go for a swim (I always say that but I never actually go).

Looking out from BB2

I just got back to site BB2 after visiting BB3. The weather looks like it's turning, the wind is starting to pick up and there's black clouds moving in.


Looking E from BB2

Well, I came back to site BB2 after visiting BB3 because BB3 was a little buggy, closed in, and was pretty picked clean in terms of firewood. BB2 is much more open and isn't on a little peninsula and so has more firewood close at hand.

Here's a shot from BB3 looking out over the lake. It's very pretty.

Looking out from BB3

I've got camp setup now, and the blackflies are out like crazy. I'm going to take a quick swim I think and then change into my other set of clothes and get some firewood before it gets too dark.

Well, it's pretty much bedtime. I had a pretty good evening.

The sun! Back again.

My 'swim' ended up more of a 'splash water on myself while I stand in very cold water'. Afterwards I went to get some firewood, mostly standing deadwood from a couple fallen trees.

Precious firewood.

Since it has been raining for the last week or so, everything most of the wood was pretty wet. I had to split a bunch with my knife to get at the dry stuff in the core of the logs. During the process I managed to cut my thumb a little. Lesson learned.

After that, it was time to start a fire. It wasn't the best job I've ever done (I never would have been able to start it without my lighter) but it was burning merrily soon enough.

With the fire going, it was time to cook up some dinner! I had brought along a little steak and cooked it over the fire using a grill that was already here at the campsite. My god, it was delicious.


Afterwards, I went and washed the 'plate' (frisbee) I was using. It was while I was cleaning up that I realized that I'd totally forgotten to bring a spoon with me. Looks like no rice/oatmeal for me!

I'm not 100% sure what I'll do for breakfast... Maybe I can cook some soup and just drink it from the jetboil. Kind of a shame that I brought this extra food I won't be able to eat. Next time.

This is going to be great.

Thankfully, I didn't need any special implements to eat hotdogs. Dee-licious.

Oh yeah

After dinner I went and hung out on the shore for a while, listening to the loons and sipping my wine (next time I should bring a cup, drinking booze from the plastic bag isn't very easy).

The weather was fairly good, there was a little thunder and light rain earlier in the day, but it cleared up and now there's no clouds in the sky and absolutely no wind.

Animal Sightings
  • More newts were spotted while cleaning the old leaves out of the fire pit.
  • Tiny catfish
That's pretty much it for tonight. Bedtime.



A very misty morning.

Been up for just over an hour now. I had enough time to get some more water from the lake and boil up some ramen noodles for breakfast.

The mist on the lake was incredibly thick this morning. I could barely see the shore from my hammock.

Mist on the lake.

I slept really well, only waking up because there were a couple owls that had decided to start hooting right over my camp. My only complaint is that things are a little damp around here still. I can feel the mist on my hair and absolutely everything is wet. I don't think it rained at all during the night, it's just the mist from the lake.

A very misty morning.

There's not a breath of wind at the moment, and only a few blackflies starting to wake up.
I'm going to just hang around a while to see if things dry out a bit.

Maybe I'll take the canoe out for a paddle when I'm done with my soup.

The weather is pretty overcast, can't even tell where the sun is supposed to be, let alone see it.


Letting things dry out

I took down everything but the clothesline and the tarps at camp. I'm going to hope as the day goes on things will dry themselves a little. No big deal if they don't, it'll just be a little damper in the pack.

I'm going for a short canoe paddle now, headed up towards the main lake.


Getting in without getting feet wet is hard and awkward.


I'm almost up to the main lake now. I had to paddle up some rapids to get here. It's much harder than I would have thought. It probably didn't help that I chose a dumb way to go, and ended up hung up on some rocks for a few minutes. Was a bit of a tight spot there!

It looks easy in this picture

Somewhere in the insanity I managed to crack my paddle (probably in the part where I was flailing it madly trying to get off the rocks I was stuck on). I'm not too upset though:
1) I have a spare (my kayak paddles) with me in the canoe.
2) I wanted to get a new paddle anyways. The one I have now is a bit too long (it's about 63"). I pretty much end up with my hand about 6" from where it should be.

Anyway, those rapids are going to be, interesting, on the way back down. I'll just have to take it as slow as possible.

For now, On to the lake!


Made it to the lake! It's a lot bigger than it looked on the maps. I passed one other canoe on the way, and saw a couple more boats on the lake. Also, there appears to be some kind of shrine to the frog-gods.

Temple to the frog gods

Here comes the guy again, seems nice enough.

I'm headed back down the river now... Going WITH the current sure is easier.


Well, I made it back to Big Bay. Going down those little rapids was much much much easier than going up.

Now it's back to base camp to see if things have dried out and time to pack up. It's still overcast, but there's still no wind to speak of. Things are looking pretty good.


Back at camp. Pretty much everything is still wet or damp. Too bad. Time to break camp anyways and head out. I can actually hear some other people coming up the lake from the launch now (maybe they're just fishing there?). These are the first other boaters I've seen on the actual lake.


All packed up and canoe loaded. Doing one last check for forgotten items...

All packed up

Looks good. Lets see if I can get myself launched without soaking myself...

Turns out I can, but not without scratching up my canoe... Hooray for skidplates!

Now, all I have to do is drive back. Another successful trip.
The full set of pictures from the trip are available here.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My God, the humanity

So, I went and tried to fly the plane... Yeah. Bad things happened.

It kind of glided upwards for a few seconds, before stalling, rolling over, and then powering itself into the dirt. Admittedly, I probably didn't react and shutdown the power fast enough. It got kind of a busted nose:


And a cutup belly:

Busted wing mounts

... and a broken engine mount.

Busted engine mount

... So yeah, it definitely needs some repairs.

"109's, ASSEMBLE!"

The end of the build (finally) approaches. The next steps are all finishing up the actual mounting of the electronics and hardware in the plane.

First I had to mount the engine, drilling pilot holes and mounting it with some bolts I picked up at Home Depot. I also had to solder on the bullet connectors for the engine and run the wires through the hole to the compartment over the wings in the fuselage. This required a little more hollowing out of the space, since it wasn't quite large enough to let the wires run through comforatably. It would have been a good idea to do this before putting the plane together.

Engine Mounted

Here's a shot of the nose attached with the prop actually sitting on the motor:

Nose attached

Next I installed the servo for the ailerons. I used adjustable servo connectors on the servo itself so that I could make adjustments to the length of the servo rods without having to re-bend them every time. This made it much easier to get things installed. I used the same approach on the rudder/aileron servo rods.

Aileron Servo Mounted

Next I used some velcro adhesive strips to mount the speed controller in the cavity above the wings. You can see the wires going forward to the engine, along with the servos installed for the rudder and elevator. The elevator and rudder servos are labelled so I could tell which was which when hooking them up to the receiver.

Electronics Installed

The last step was actually installing the radio receiver, which I had a little trouble with. Basically the battery compartment was too small to fit the full receiver and the battery, so I had to install it in the removable cockpit. This actually ended up working out pretty well, since it means the aerials for the receiver were out of the way of everything. You can see I had to label the connectors on the cockpit because they weren't visible anymore.

Receiver Mounted

And here's the bottom:

Cockpit Electronics.

That was pretty much it! The last thing to do was to put it all together. Here's some shots of everything all assembled: