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Showing posts from 2010

Lunar Eclipse 2007

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Mid-lunar eclipse
Originally uploaded by istargazer. This is a hand-held shot taken through the eye-piece of a 10" Dobsonian telescope from the west coast of Canada, August 28, 2007.

Lunar Eclipse 2007

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Lunar eclipse
Originally uploaded by istargazer. The lunar eclipse that occurred tonight on Winter Solstice was not visible in Vancouver because of cloud cover. The picture above was a handheld shot taken on August 28, 2007 through the eyepiece a 10" Dobsonian telescope.

West Coast Customs HP Denali

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IMG087
Originally uploaded by istargazer. A custom GMC Yukon Denali by West Coast Customs was on display at the grand opening of the HP Store in Vancouver, Canada on 3 December 2010. It's an amazing vehicle and the paint work on it is even more incredible in person. It was fun being able to sit inside and play around with some of the equipment including an HP Slate mounted in the dash in front of the passenger seat.

Invisibility Cloak with Xbox 360 Kinect

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This a very cool effect using the XBox 360 Kinect. More details can be found here: Kinect Camouflage Hack.

MY11 Nissan GT−R 0-100km/h time 3.xxx!!!

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Awesome. The Nissan GR-R takes off like a slingshot!

The Black Keys - Tighten Up [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

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I heard this song by The Black Keys on 94/7 Alternative Portland today. I like it.

Sir Mix-A-Lot - Carz

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Kinda catchy, really.

Remembrance Day 2010

I received an email a few weeks ago from someone in Australia:

I am the acting coordinator of History Services at Marrickville Council and we are running a special 'Remembrance Day' event in November. I sumbled across your ANZAC day presentation and would love to show it at our small event.

Marrickville Council
PO Box 79 Marrickville NSW 1475
www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au
It has been 3 years since I first posted this video clip to be played at a school Remembrance Day assembly and I had no idea that it would continue to hold interest after all this time. I was truly honored to know that they wanted to use it and I will be thinking of all the men and women around the world who have sacrificed so much for the rest of us.

Kwong Eats ....: Pacific Northwest Cuisine @ Blue Water Cafe, Vancouver

Kwong Eats ....: Pacific Northwest Cuisine @ Blue Water Cafe, Vancouver

My wife and I spent our wedding anniversary this year on the road in Montana. It wasn't as romantic at that sounds because we had a breakdown on the highway that morning and it was an overall stressful day. We decided to celebrate properly once we got back to Vancouver. There were very many restaurants to choose from and with lots of recommendations from friends it was a difficult choice to make. We finally decided on going to the Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown and this post on Kwong Eats shows exactly the things that I myself would order. My mouth is watering already!

Road Trip 2010... Completed!

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It's been a busy summer for us. It's been a GREAT summer for us. We completed our longest trip ever with our travel trailer going from Vancouver to Thunder Bay, Ontario via the USA with extra stops in Minneapolis and the SPAM Museum. The trip included over 8000 km of driving through 27 days and all sorts of wonderful sights and beautiful locations as well a flat tire, a worn out tire, a bent axle, and a wheel bearing failure.

It all worked out well, though, and despite all that, we're really happy with our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BH and I'm quite impressed with the way our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali performed during the entire trip. Also, I can forget the ProPride 3P hitch: it was great and I was really, REALLY happy we had it especially when we hit the 50 mph wind gusts in the Dakotas.

I'm uploading some of the pictures I took along the way to my Picasa album. I'll also post up some thoughts of our RV adventures here when I can....

Most of the pictures were taken…

Grandy Creek KOA: Jul 16-18

We took our Keystone Premier 31BH travel trailer RV out for the second time this past weekend. We went to the exact same pull-through site at Grandy Creek that we went on the Victoria Day long weekend a couple of months ago. Leaving on the Friday night after dinner was really nice. Traffic was light and smooth and we arrived at the campground around 9 pm. This time, I packed it with more gear and supplies to see what it would be like to tow during our extended road trip later this summer.

I'm getting more used to the new towing setup now and found that it towed even better than before. The biggest difference was that I inflated the rear tires on our 2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali to the maximum 44 psi as shown on the sidewall and I raised the weight distribution bars on our ProPride 3P hitch to 8 inches. It felt very smooth and the forward/back tugging sensation that I felt on our last trip had disappeared. I think it has to be due to loading the RV differently with more balanced weight …

2007 GMC Yukon XL Denali: Front Brake Pads Replaced 43711 km

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I noticed a faint squeaking from the front brakes as well as a different feel on the brake pedal, so I knew I needed to get the brakes checked before we went on our road trip later this summer. I stopped at a prominent independent shop because of the celebrity-endorsed TV commercials I had seen. They told me that the front pads and rotors needed to be changed and gave me a variety of quotes comparing different qualities of parts.

The cheapest were around $700 and the most expensive with OEM performance were over $1000. Concerned about towing our RV half-way across the country and through the Rockies, I opted for a slotted performance rotor and got a final quote for $1200. They also mentioned that they noticed that the front shocks were leaking but that might be covered under warranty and recommended I check to see if I was still covered. I was scheduled to get the work done later that evening but they called to tell me they couldn't get the right rotor in time.

Because of what they …

RV Stablizer Jacks Replaced

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Thanks to other Keystone Premier 31BHPR owners at RV.net I knew to check out the stabilizer jacks on our travel trailer even before we went out on our first trip. The problem with the jacks from the factory was that the stop nut that prevented the rods from backing all the way out when you retracted the jacks was loose. Ours suffered from the same problem and all four stabilizer jacks were replaced after we returned from our maiden voyage....

The hardware on each of the new jacks definitely look beefier than the originals. It was interesting that all four were not replaced with the same brand. The ones in the rear were branded Husky (as shown in the picture). But even though the hardware looks the same, the ones in the front had no name. The only conclusion I can make is that they are NOT Husky stabilizer jacks.

Thetford Toilet Valve Leak

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During our first trip with our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR, one issue that came up was a leak from the RV toilet. After investigating a little closer, I discovered that clean water was coming out of the top of the valve in the rear when the foot pedal was lifted up to fill the bowl with water. You can see in the picture, where the water was coming out.

When I went online to research the problem, I found that other people at RV.net had the same problem and that this was a known issue. The good news was that Thetford was aware of the problem and their customer service department was doing an excellent job taking care of it....

When I dropped the RV off at our dealership to look after some other warranty items, they could not replicate the leak. So I called Thetford's 1-800 number today, gave them the serial number on the Aqua Magic V toilet as well as the VIN number on our Keystone and they told me they would send the part out to me right away. Now, that's great customer service.…

Our First Geocache: Westwood Raceway

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I decided to start Geocaching with the kids this summer. Instead of buying a separate GPS device, I downloaded a free geocaching Android app for my LG EVE GW620 smartphone. It works reasonably well. We started close to home and found this one near the old Westwood Race Track.

You can find more information about geocaching here: Geocaching.com

ProPride 3P Hitch: Second Impressions

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I took our Keystone Premier 31BH out of the valley and brought it into town last night so that I could get some service done. I was able to adjust the ProPride Hitch and get another impression of it since my first time towing with it last week. I set the weight distribution bars to 7.5" and I think it's the right setting because the forward/back motion--which I learned is called "chucking"--is minimized and the steering feels good. I might also try 8" again next time just to confirm. Also, after towing again last night I'm confident that my installation was correct because the whole rig pulls nice and straight.

My previous complaint about it being tedious to raise and lower the WD bars with a ratchet socket has been nullified after I realized that I had a speed wrench (like the one used for the stabilizer jacks) that I could use. It's much stronger than the one for the stabilizer jacks so there's no worry about breaking it and it makes the process of…

LG Eve GW620R Android - Factory Reset

My LG Eve GW620R Android smartphone hasn't been very reliable since I bought it back in December. First it got bricked when I tried to update the firmware and the entire mainboard had to be replaced. Then about a month ago the system software got corrupted and I lost half of all the function on my phone. Online technical support didn't help and when I went to Cellcom at Coquitlam Centre for help, the person there was COMPLETELY UNHELPFUL so much so the guy turned me away and basically said he would not help me at all. I just about gave up on getting my phone fixed at all.

Today I tried one more time and with the help of telephone support I was able to do a factory reset by pressing the VOL Down, Menu, and Camera buttons at the same time while the phone was on. I thought I had tried that already, but this time it worked and I got full function on the phone again....

I have to thank William at Wireless Wave who seemed really to care about helping and directed me to the correct so…

ProPride 3P Hitch: Impressions

We just completed the trip with our new 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR travel trailer. It was also my first experience towing with the ProPride hitch. However, because I couldn't complete the entire installation in one day, I have some doubts my own setup. I need to remove the hitch anyway so that our dealer can work on the trailer, so I'll be able to reinstall the hitch and make sure I do it right. Here are my initial impressions on towing with the ProPride hitch....


It's definitely easy to hook up with no effort--the Denali's backup camera makes it simple. But it's time consuming having to raise and lower the WD bars with a socket wrench whenever I want to hitch and unhitch. My cordless drill doesn't have enough torque to turn the adjustment screw, otherwise I would use it.After hooking up and adjusting the weight distribution bars, the trailer was nose-high. I wasn't able to fix it right away, but after we got to the KOA I was able lower the hitch bar one m…

Keystone Premier 31BHPR: Shakedown Trip

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We just completed the shakedown trip for our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR. Because the 35' trailer doesn't fit on our driveway, we had to keep it at the storage lot. That made setting things up a lot harder. In fact, we didn't get all the final pieces into place until the morning that we left.

Luckily, it didn't take us too long to get on the road and even with taking our time to stop at a weigh scale, Hagen's of Blaine to pick up a couple of items, and a rest stop to make some minor adjustments, we were able to get to the campsite by about 3pm.

We decided to go to this KOA for our shakedown trip even though it's farther away from home because we came here lots last summer and are very familiar with the facilities. Getting a pull through site made things that much easier. We found that we actually like the pull through sites a little bit better because they back onto the very large open field where the kids can play while we watch them.

Overall, it was a good week…

VW R32: Service Action 60A7

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I learned today that VW currently has a service action out (described to me alternatively as “S9” or “60A7”) for the inspection of the 2004 R32's moonroof drain. According to my invoice the dealership modified the moonroof drains; whether that entailed installation of new parts or modification of current parts I don’t know. As it was free, I suspect the latter.

FYI, latest TSBs for the 2004 R32 from the NHTSA.

Since my 50k miles scheduled maintenance was more than a year ago, I took my R in today expecting to have the “60k miles” service done, despite only having 54k miles on the odometer. To my surprise the dealership told me all I needed was a “55k miles” service which was simply an oil change. I was surprised because according to the information on VWoA there is no “55k miles” service for the 2004 R32 – it goes from 50k directly to 60k. Odd.

Type rest of the post here.

ProPride 3P Hitch Installed

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From Bullet Mods and Accessories
I did a lot of research over the past year about different kinds of hitches and although we never had a problem with our Reese HP Dual Cam system, the thought of towing a 35' trailer very near our limits across the Prairies this summer made it easier for us to upgrade. We the same trip a couple of years ago on the tail of some severe thunderstorms and I know how strong the winds can get.

After reading information and comments from owners and non-owners of variety of hitches including the Equal-i-zer, Dual Cam, PullRite, Hensley Arrow, and ProPride 3P, I decided the ProPride 3P Hitch was the best one for us. I'm really glad I did, too, because customer service has been top notch and beyond what can usually be expected from "average" companies.

I completed the install of the ProPride myself. It was fairly straightforward. I didn't bother to take any pictures of my progress because I found that Restcure.ca is a great resource with an …

ProPride 3P Hitch Is On The Way

We're another step closer to getting on the road with our brand new 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR travel trailer. The ProPride 3P hitch I ordered several weeks ago was shipped 11 May 2010 and is making its way from Grand Blanc, MI to the west coast. It left Hodgkins, IL this morning. I can't wait!

UPDATE: 14 May 2010

The hitch is now on the West Coast!


View ProPride 3P Hitch Journey in a larger map

Can you tell I'm excited?

Past journey as of 12 May 2010


View ProPride 3P Hitch Journey in a larger map

Keystone RV: How To Winterize Your RVs water system

I'm really glad I found this series of tips from Keystone RV Company on YouTube. They are great because they help me understand our new Premier travel trailer much better. This video explains how to winterize the RV's water system.

Keystone RV: Proper Lug Nut Torque - Requirements and Maintenance

This is another helpful video from Keystone RV. This information is explained in the Keystone Owner's Manual, but it's nice to have the pictures to correspond. This video explains the proper way to apply the proper lug nut torque on the travel trailer.

Keystone RV: Override Your Slide Out Mechanism

I just happened to find these very helpful videos from Keystone RV. These service tips are great because they are specific to Keystone RVs and will really help with our new Premier. This video shows you how to manually crank the slide outs in case of power failure. Good to know.

A Song For My Wife On Mother's Day

All My Daysby Alexi Murdoch

Now I see clearly
It's you I'm looking for
All of my days
Soon I'll smile
I know I feel this loneliness no more
All of my days

Lynx Levelers: Christmas in May

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From Bullet Mods and AccessoriesWhen we first bought our Pacific Coachworks Tango travel trailer last year, one of the first accessories that I bought were Lynx Levelers. I didn't want to bother with heavy scrap pieces of wood to level the RV and I really liked the bright orange colour of the Lynx. They are very easy to use especially since the Hoppy bubble levels that I mounted tell us how many inches to raise the trailer, and each of the Lynx Levelers are about 1" tall. There was never any guessing to how high to build the stacks.

During the off-season I used the Lynx Levelers under the trailer tires to keep them off the frozen pavement. As it turns out, we had one of our warmest winters on record. So in March when we took the RV out on the first trip of the year, I noticed that the levelers bent out of shape from the weight of the tires on the soft asphalt....

...Even though it was just cosmetic and they worked just as well under the stabilizer jacks, I still thought about …

RV Mod: Bamboo Gutter Extensions

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From Bullet Mods and AccessoriesLast year when we were shopping for our first RV, a Pacific Coachworks Tango, we noticed clothes pins clipped on each corner of the travel trailer. We had no idea what it was for until the dealer explained that it helped the water running from the gutters to fall away from the sides of the trailer. This would reduce the black streaks that occur when the trailer sits outside in the rain. We were skeptical at first, but....
...when it rained, we could see that it really worked. It's cheap, too, so as homage to the little red-neck inside of me, I promptly placed four brand new bamboo clothes pins on our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR.

The Bullet and Tango Hotel

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From The BulletWe signed the papers for our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR today and did the walk through. It was a little sad saying good bye to the Tango because we had such a good time with it last year. But seeing the new shiny Bullet right next to it made it easy to be excited.

It's going to take some time to get used the new layout and figuring out exactly where we should put everything but there was one pleasant surprise: the laundry chute. At first, we didn't think it would be good for anything but when I put our laundry hampers in place, we realized that it would work out quite well. In the Tango we had to take up floor space for it. In the Bullet, it is conveniently out of the way.
From The Bullet
From The Bullet

One thing I was disappointed in was the plastic toilet. The one in the Tango was porcelain. I suppose we have to make some sacrifices to reduce weight.

The Premier Arrives--Finally!

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From Keystone Premier 31BHPR
We finally got a chance to see our 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR on the weekend. It had arrived at the dealership earlier in the week. We had placed a deposit on it back in February when we saw it at the Earlybird RV show in Abbotsford but what was originally supposed to be a 2 week wait ended up being much longer.

It was nice seeing it in person again and it reconfirmed that this was the right RV for us.

Torque Multiplier

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I'm planning on installing the new ProPride 3P hitch by myself when our Keystone Premier 31BHPR trailer arrives. It seems straightforward enough, but some of the bolts need to be torqued to 250 lb-ft. That's not something easily accomplished with everyday basic tools. I have torque wrench but it's rated only up to 150 lb-ft. I could not find any torque wrench rated above 250 lb-ft, but my searching led me to find something that I had never heard of before, a torque multiplier:

From RV Mods and Accessories
Restcure.ca has a great explanation of how a torque multiplier works as well as some very helpful pictures and information about the ProPride hitch. So I went out and bought the torque multiplier today which was on sale for only $70 (regularly $110).

The 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR travel trailer we ordered waaay back in February should finally be arriving soon. Apparently, on top of all the other reasons for delay that we heard through other owners (slight specification ch…

ProPride 3P Hitch

Since we were upgrading our travel trailer to a 2010 Keystone Premier 31BHPR, I thought we should also upgrade our hitch to a ProPride 3P. There's lots of talk and debate about high performance hitches, but going through as much information and research that I could find, I decided that the ProPride was the one for us. I've placed the order and hopefully it will arrive within a few weeks. The video below basically demonstrates why trailer sway is eliminated with this style of hitch....

GMC Yukon XL Denali Summer Tire Swap - 38920 km

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Despite having one of the warmest winters in history this year, spring time temperatures have still been in the single digits. This past week we even had some wet snow. That's meant I've had to keep the winter tires on our GMC Yukon XL Denali a lot longer than normal.

The forecast has finally changed and I took the opportunity today to switch back to the 20" chrome.

Let's hope the weather stays warm!

Waiting for the Premier

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It's been about a month since we first saw the Keystone Premier 31BHPR at the Earlybird RV Show. The dealership said they ordered 4 of them and we were 3rd in line. The picture on the left shows the outside kitchen which features a refrigerator, sink, 2-burner grille, and a swivel-mounted LCD TV. We were told that it would take about 2 weeks for the new travel trailer to arrive, but it's been about a month now and it's looking less likely that we will get it in time for our Spring Break trip at the end of March.

I've read comments on the forums and there have been a couple of rumors why there might be a delay. One reason is the incredible popularity of the unit and the large number of recent orders. Another is that Keystone RV made some design changes and they were incorporating them into the new RVs.

Whatever is causing the delay, we've taken advantage by removing almost all of our gear from the Tango. It took us three trips of filling our Denali XL up to the roof t…

Keystone Premier by Bullet Ultra Lite Travel Trailer

We saw the Keystone Premier 31BHPR in early February at the Early-bird RV Show in Abbotsford. We fell in love with the floor plan and decided to trade in our old travel trailer after only having it for less than a year. With the good weather we've been having and spring break only a couple of weeks away, I'm starting to go a little stir crazy trying to find as much information and pictures about the Premier to carry me through until when it arrives. This video gives a little glimpse at the new trailer.

2010 Premier Ultra Lite 31BHPR

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We were at the Abbotsford Tradex this weekend for the Earlybird RV Show and saw this spiffy looking 35' travel trailer in full body paint. It's a brand new Premier Ultra-Lite made by Keystone RV. We love our 2009 Tango but the seven of us just needed more space. Because the Premier is an ultra-lite, we can have a quad-bunk configuration with dual-slides and a second kitchen (outside) and STILL be within the towing capacity of our 2007 Yukon XL Denali. It was something we could not pass up.

I posted some general specifications and floor plan:
Premier Ultra-Lite 31BHPR RV Travel Trailer

Vancouver City

This is an amazing timelapse video of the city of Vancouver home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The opening ceremonies are only a few days away on 12 February 2010.

I Will Possess Your Heart

Anthem for stalkers? Well, I still think it's a great song!

Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

Haunting song from the latest episode of House: "The Down Low" aired Jan. 11, 2010.