Thursday, November 7, 2013

More LED madness

After being inspired by a fellow Vanagon e-mail list member Jarrett, I decided it was time to add some more LED lighting to the camper. I previously installed LED light strips in the upper shelf but found it to be more of a mood light rather than useful for reading.
I have had pretty good luck buying LED lighting off eBay but at $39 for the swivel base LED spotlight from IKEA I decided to give it a try
Removing the metal cover under the upper bunk provided the perfect spot to mount all four lights as well as plenty of room to hide the wires. After spray painting it metallic silver, here's the mock-up.
Drilling the holes...
Almost ready for mounting
Installed and ready to hook up the wiring

I think this will be one of the best upgrades so far, bright warm reading light with minimal power usage.

Super happy with the results and looking forward to using it on our next camping excursion. Here's a final shot of my pretty wifey reading up on her Vanagon literature

Buckhorn Campground

As we are still relatively new to the LA area we are always looking for feedback on places to visit and of course camp. After being told about the close proximity to the Angeles forest, we decided to give it a try. Part of the US Forest Service, Buckhorn Campground sits at 6300 feet with 38 sites among tall pines and cedars. With the camper packed for a day and night full of fun we were ready to go.
We left early in the morning so we could enjoy the scenic trip up the mountain. Here are some shots during our climb

We were worried about the engine overheating but the camper ran beautifully and never got over 230 degrees on the steepest parts of the climb. I believe the cooler weather and more gradual grade enabled us to climb without any issues. Shortly before arriving at the campground we hit a new altitude record in the camper of over 7,000ft!!!

 Only 1.5 hours drive from our home, we arrived at our destination and picked a nice site.

Of course my wife managed to take a shot of me taking a shot of the camper

We are still surprised at the amazing beauty and peaceful atmosphere you can visit while being so close to the second largest city in the US. I read that this is normally a very busy campground during the summer but there were only 2 other campers during our stay and at only $12 per night we were very happy. With everything set up it was time to see what the surrounding area had to offer.

Our fun filled day came to an end with the earlier sunset and it was time for a fire followed by a movie in our VW then off to sleep.

We saw ice the next morning where there was water so we knew temps dipped below freezing overnight. Although it was cold, we remained warm under lots of blankets and wearing quite a few layers. This was a short camping excursion but well worth it and we look forward to returning to the Angeles forest next year (although our next site will be at a lower elevation). With a busy day ahead of us planned back at home we packed up and got everything ready for our drive back. Exiting the campground, I decided to take a shot of some of the snow we experienced
And some more shots of our trip back down the mountain.

One of our prior camping experiences at 5,600ft left me extremely dizzy and nauseous so this was also a test whether that was a one-time event. I can now confirm that I do not handle altitude well and was glad that we only spent one day at over 6,000ft. I woke up with a fairly bad headache as well as felt somewhat dizzy so as much as I love the views, we will probably be keeping our future camping trips at lower levels.