Monday, January 01, 2024

My New Camping/Fishing Rig Setup - for Boondocking Trips in 2024!

Living in Colorado for over 20 years and having explored much of Summit County, Grand County and the Front Range with the wife and previous chocolate lab, I am familiar with most fishing areas in the state.  I am always looking for new areas to fish - and enjoy the solitude of some of the smaller streams and rivers.

I watch a lot of videos by LookNFishy on YouTube  and he's my inspiration for getting out and exploring more of Colorado/Wyoming/Utah/Montana - and now that my daughter will be headed to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming, I have no excuse but to visit the area more.  I recently reconnected with some old friends from the RockyMtnFly webpage and they do trips up there all the time (and some live in the area).  So no excuses for 2024 - I need to do more exploring - I ain't getting any younger!! 

Last year I started looking for a rooftop tent to do overnights in Winter Park with my son who downhill mountain bikes at Trestle Bike Park.  

I looked for about a month and found an almost new (used twice) SmittyBuilt on FB Marketplace for $900 - it sleeps three (well, two comfortably) and fits on my factory roof rack.  The only issue I found was that mounting it to my factory rack on my 4 Runner is difficult - the hardware it comes with sucked, so I had to improvise - especially since the room under the rack is very tight and near impossible to get your hands under and turn the bolts that hold the mounting hardware around the factory rack bars to the rails of the RTT.


Smittybilt Overlander XL

I had to get creative with the brackets since there was nothing off the shelf that would be perfect.  I went to Home Depot and walked around for a while trying to find something better than the cheap brackets provided.  I found these 3 inch electrical conduit straps that are pretty heavy duty.  They were  more round in shape than would fit around my factory bars, and I needed more of a flatter handle shape.  Again, I improvised and banged them down with a hammer to more flatten them out.  With shorter screws and a ratched 1/2" wrench, and the addition of a hockey puck sitting on my crossbars (duct taped in place), I was able to get the RTT securely attached to the rack.

I have driven many miles with this thing on my roof and it is safe, I check it constantly, and besides one of the pucks wiggling out of place (hence the duct tape), I have had no issues.  

I purchased a 1.5" mattress topper to add to the 3" mattress pad, and my sleeping bag.  I slept pretty good - and the RTT comes with a USB LED lights that are so bright I had to put duct tape over half the lights so they weren't blinding.

Mattress Pad 

We were now ready for our maiden voyage.  Unfortunately our first trip was cut short when Z wiped out pretty badly on the last run of the day, and he was pretty dazed and I made the decision to just drive the hour and 20 minutes home to be safe.  I don't think he was concussed, but he had scrapes all over his shoulders that weren't covered by his chest protector and helmet.  His helmet was a mess - and the visor was cracked off.  That put an end to the inaugural boys night in WP.

We did manage a second trip that we actually did stay overnight.  He biked for most of the day, and then in the early evening I convinced him to try fly fishing, but unfortunately the fish were down and the mosquiotes were up.  We cut the evening fishing short and went to dinner and then hit Lot G at Winter Park to camp for the night.


I really enjoyed the freedom of having the RTT and being able to get more out of my trips by having the ability to stay overnight.  I know there are tons of free places to camp in NF or BLM land and most of the places I fish are off the beaten path.  I would love to extend my stays with the ability to "work" on the road and be able to extend my fishing time past Saturday's and Sunday's.

In preparation for the spring/summer/fall 2024's camping/fishing season, I have watched a million boondocking and truck camping videos and looked at all those "best gear" videos and started a wishlist of my own gear.  For Christmas this year, I started buying a bunch of things that would make my trips more comfortable.

Before I started buying gear, I wanted to add a shelf to my truck - adding more ability to carry gear.  I built this shelf that allows me to put three 10" tall tupperware type containers in here and still store my boots and rods and a power station under the shelf.  I can throw my fishing gear on top of the shelf along with sleeping bag and other gear.  I want to leave the back seat open for a float tube and my clothes and a cooler - and anything else I am forgetting.

In total I paid $17 for a piece of 3/8" OSB and $19 for a grey indoor/outdoor carpet.  I shaped the edges so it countours to the truck and set them on the wheel wells for support.  The split is 36 inches on the left and 24 inches on the right (ish).  This is pretty sturdy and holds a ton of weight.  I might put the legs on hinges so they flip out of the way.  I can fit a 39" deep solar panel on top of the tupperware container on the left hand side - I put the carpet on the back side of the shelf to protect the solar panel from scratching.  This also leaves my hitch open for a cargo basket, a bike rack or a hitch for the raft & trailer my buddy has.

Now that I had the rig all set up, I wanted to get a power station - after watching a few videos, I notice a few people had Bluetti's and they really liked them.  I wanted something strong enough to charge my laptop battery for a full weekend and charge all my other gear at night.  I chose a 700W system - as it would be easy to charge with a 100W solar panel.  This one isn't exactly the one I got - but is very close - it was $319:

Bluetti EB70 700W Power Station

I then got this solar panel - as it was the cheapest - $65 vs $90 for the same exact one at Harbor Freight.  y buddy told me I wouldn't need much more than this, especially if I left it out all day to charge the power station.  He was right - as I have left this out in my yard during winter sun and was pulling about 97 watts with it into the battery - and after about 3 hours it filled my battery from 60% to 100%.

100W Solar Panel

The next toy I had to get were lanterns/torches - I saw a video of a guy who lives out of his 4Runner and he had these lanterns that had magnetic bases, so you could stick them to anything.  They were also easily rechargeable through a USB cord. 

LED Magnetic Lantern's for $14

I was shopping over at Murdoch's (yes the horse feed store) and noticed they had tons of camping equipment for relatively cheap prices.

Mini Foldable Shovel for $17

Three pack of Sporks for $9 (these are the closest I could find):
Propane Stove for $18

I assume I won't be cooking very much - I will just need to boil water for tea and those Mountain Meals or Peak 2 Meals you get at Cabelas/Sportsmans Warehouse/Murdochs - you can get some other high end meals as well - but I don't plan to be too far away from civilization - so might even head back to town to do some work on my laptop and hot spot and grab food then.

I hit Sportsman's Warehouse looking for some deals and got:

I already have a ton of other items, like rope, sleeping bags, storage bags, cooler, first aid kit, propane bottles, tp, tire compressor, gloves, tools, blankets, matches, lighters, pillows, battery packs, truck battery jumper, tow straps, USB Fan for the tent, etc.

I still need to get bear spray, a life jacket (one of those small inflatable ones), maybe a WeBoost to increase my cellular signal (?), a small heater, a table system of some sort, mosquito netting - these are things I might wait to see their necessity after my first trip.  Of course I will also need a Wyoming full year NR fishing license.  

I'm thinking about getting a GoPro knock off camera to document some of my trips.  Still lots to research and keep me occupied during the winter months.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Clear Creek Euro Nymphing

 Trying it out with my buddy Werm's rod and reel.

I managed one fish - luckily and on accident:

I will try again - maybe in the spring when the weather turns back to decent.

Sunday, November 05, 2023

11 Mile with Werms

 Last minute trip to 11 Mile Canyon with Werms - glad he pushed me to go.  Lots and lots of fish - watched him TEAR IT UP with the euro nymph rig - wow!  We both caught tons of fish - one was a decent rainbow about 16-17 inches.

The only pic I took:

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Clear Creek - September 9, 2023

 Caught a few.  Got three larger than normal bows - including one with some orange spots on his belly - a cuttbow maybe??

Sunday, September 03, 2023

Monday, August 07, 2023

South Park Creeks - 8/5/23

 Fished South Park on Saturday - had to get up into the mountains.

Caught some stocker bows and cuttbows in a lake, and then headed to a small creek to catch some browns and brookies - grand slam kinds day.

This guy slammed a hopper about the size of his head.

Funny story - the creek I fished had a ton of beaver ponds (for the record I hate beaver ponds as you can't wade in them very easily and you can never tell if the bottom is three inches deep of mud, or 3 feet of mud).  I was fishing the creek in front of a log jam - and decided to fish just above it - I flipped my hopper fropper rig above the jam and I hooked a fish - and you know you have about .2 seconds to get him out of the hole before he runs under the log jam or bank and snap your rig, so I put pressure on him and tried flipping him into the creek below the log jam.  However, this was a really good sized fish - and he didn't come out of the water on my first try, so I tried again and he must have been coming to the surface already and when I did I launched him directly at me in the lower level.  I did a bit of a body bump to keep him from going by me and he knocked into the water at my feet - unfortunately he came unbuckled and sat at my feet - probably in shock from what just happened (or my ugly face).  He was a 14 inch brown that was pretty fat - obviously I was in his primary eating domain!!  Great fish.

Jefferson Lake, such a pretty lake - unfortunately way too much litter and powerbait containers around the lake.  Had about 30 stockers sitting at the inlet to the lake - they were fun to catch on hoppers.

Saw this gal enjoying the beaver ponds.

All the pretty ladies.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Hawaii - July 2023

For vacation in chronoligical order - startat the bottom! 

Sunset on our last night.
Friday, July 28, 2023 - Day 13

Sunset cruise - this is back looking towards the Pu'u Kukui in West Maui.

Ginormous snails that hang out at night and retreat back to the bushes and shadows in the morning.  This thing was about 3 inches long.
Thursday, July 27, 2023 - Day 12

More Slaughterhouse Beach - a secret spot of sorts.  It is a fish sanctuary - so no fishing - but we saw trules here and tons of fish - the bexst snorkling on our whole trip.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023 - Day 11

Lava tube - with Z flexing.

Black Sand Beach was a mis-nomer.  Yes, there was some sand here, but most of it was small rocks - making it tough on the feet.  The waves here were pretty strong too - we did some body surfing.  
Avi mentioned it was nice not to have sandy feet - until we got back to the hotel that night and were finding small black stones in places you don't talk about.

At the end of the Road to Hana was the Oheo Gulch at the Kipahulu Visitor Center - the attraction her was the Seven Sacred Pools @ Oheo Gulch (mm 42).  Unfortunately you can't swim in them - in fact you can't even touch them - they were fenced off.  Boring!

Avi at the bottom.

Dad and Z's view from the top.

More water falls - this was Wailua Falls MM #45 - which were huge falls - are about 175 feet to the top one.  We didn't swim it - Z and I climbed up the trail on the left to the almost top.  Jen and Avi went right to the base.

Looking back at the Venus Pools from the ocean.

Z jumped off all of these cliffs - the highest was about 50ish feet.
Waioka Pond AKA Venus Pool - MM 48
Probably the best and most secluded part of the trip - on private property but access is allowed.
This is a deep pool just a gravel bar away from the ocean that was crashing into the shore here.  The ocean is a beast and you could hear rocks rolling out with the waves after they crashed in.  This pool is sheltered from the ocean from low tide, but I think it connects to the ocean during higher tides or the rainy season - as I have seen videos on YouTube where it is connected to the ocean.

There are tons of falls next to the road - many are much more visible during rainy season (November and December) - but in July, some are dried up.  This is one we stopped at and took pictures - I wish I remembered the name of it.  For perspective this is about 60 feet high.

First stop was the Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees/Painter Forest - there are multiple places to see these in along Hana - but two of them are in Arboretums and you have to pay.  At MM 7, these are right next to the road (but on private property) and free.
We saw Twin Falls at MM 2, but wanted to make sure we got an early start to the trip and get to the end frst, and then hit some spots on the way home.  We had reservations at 3-5pm at Wai'anapanapa State Park.
From Haleakala we headed back down the mountain and towards the Road to Hana.

We thought we would be the only ones up there on a Tuesday - however, when we pulled into the lot there was 14 buses already there and probably 50 cars.  I'm betting over 400 people were up there.

We got up around 3 am to head to Haleakala for the sunrise.  It is a legit 2 hour+ drive to the top.  On cue at 5:56am, the sun popped above the horizon.

None of these pics seem to be in order - but I will work through it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023 - Day 10

This was a hike that we had heard had an amazing waterfall at the end of - I thought it was a .4 mile hike - but you had to hike in the 1 mile to the lower falls and then it would be a .4 mile hike to the upper falls.  We never made it - the trail was slick and rough in places - we turned around about the .8 mile mark.

The Lavender Farm

Monday 7/24/23 - Day 10

We hit the beach the rest of the day.

We got up early on Sunday - we had reservations at 7:30am to do a catamaran trip to Molokini Crater.  The wind was brutal, the snorkling was ok.  The trip had food and drinks for breakfast and lunch - which was good.  We were back by 1pm.

Sunday 7/23/23 - Day 9

Birthday dinner at Kimo's was nice - we checked out some of the shops on Front Street, saw the Banyan Tree and then headed back to the condo.

We took pictures for about an hour - he gave us some ideas for more things to do - and then we headed to Lahaina for dinner.

BKR is a local YouTube Celebrity and a great photographer.  As we waited for him, it started to rain and we hid under the bridge.

We hit the condo - showered, cleaned up and then headed to the Kapalua Bay Beach to meet BKR for family pictures at sunset.

We did hit a secret turtle beach (less than .5 miles from our condo) - this beach was maybe 10 feet wide wih sand - it was much more rocky than most - but this is where the turtles came to chill.  We saw about 10 of them coming and going in the 15 minutes or so we stopped by.

Nothing planned for today - just a chill day - hit the beach, check out Lahaina - family pictures at 6pm with BKR

Saturday 7/22/23 - Day 8

A rainbow view from the front of the Condo.

This cove was sheltered and you had to walk down these huge stairs - but the beach was amazing - a fish sanctuary - where we saw hundreds of different types of fish that were a foot from you - and we saw turtles feeding.  Amazing.

On the way back to the the condo we stopped at Slaughterhouse Beach - which is a locals favorite place - we were lucky enough to get there a little later (around 2pm) and he someone pulling out of the tiny parking lot.

We had one interaction with a tourist - we will call him Kyle - who got a little tongue tied when he saw Avi.  Boys are very simple creatures.

We made it all the way to the the far side of the island - and stopped at Julia's Best Banana Bread (which it was) and decided he had enough and turned around and came back.

We continued north as far as we could go - soon the road turned into a one lane road that would go around bends and skinny bridges and sharp turns - with no where to pull off or over if someone was coming the other way.

We did stop at the Nakalele Blowhole - but no pictures.  In the parking lot - we looked back towards the mountains and Mom saw this huge waterfall - we didn't get a picture - but it had to be hundreds of feet off the ground.  When I got back to the hotel that night I googled it and found out it was Honokohau Falls - which is on private property and has no way of hiking to it.  It is featured in Jurassic Park and the only way to get to it is by helicopter.  The falls are over 1,100 feet hike - incredible we could see it from so far away.

Hermit crab....

This is the larger pool - had to be 30 feet deep - that the kids were jumping off of the walls into.

This is a small pool that was 4 ft deep and 3 feet wide.

These pools are protected by the ocean as they are higher than where the waves come pounding into the shore here.  The lava has made pools and holes everywhere with tunnels under them creating hot tubs and blow holes.

Our first stop was the Olivine Pools - which is just a pull off and then you have to hike down about 1/2 mile to the ocean.

We decided to check out the north shore of the west side on our first day in Maui.  Lots of cool things on this side of the island.

Friday 7/21/23 - Day 7 (first full day on Maui)

He jumped just as the sunset - very cool photos.
We then headed to Blackrock Beach so Z could do some cliff jumping.

This is the view from our VRBO's balcony.

Our flight went smoothly from Oahu to Maui.  We got in, got our rental and drove to our VRBO.

Shucking a sunflower of the seeds.  They use every part of the flower - the seeds for oil, the husks for fertilizer.

This place is amazing - yes it's like $10 a person, but well worth it.  There wasn't a huge filed of sunflowers - but about a half a football field worth - he grows 10 batches at different times throughout the year and the last a few weeks - we were lucky they were in bloom while we were there.

Perfect time to hit the Waimanalo Country Farms for some sunflowers and lemonade.

With our flight at 2pm to Maui - we had a half day to explore.

Thursday 7/20/23 - Day 6

Our last full day in Oahu - so we wanted to hit everything we couldn't get to in the prior days.

Wednesday 7/19/23 - Day 5

Of course, we always have to find the closest university and check out the softball digs - the University of Hawaii stadium did not disappoint.  Turf field, dirt infield, only 200 down both lines.  We walked right into the stadium and onto the field - amazing how smaller schools lock up their stadiums, while larger D1 schools let you just go and check them out!

Z and I found Hawaiian (Aloha) shirts at Costco too - for $20 each - best bargain around.

On the way home, we stopped at Costco and the kids had pizza for dinner - cheapest dinner of the whole trip.

Dole whip - which is pineapply soft serve ice cream.  It tastes exactly like what you think - first bite is good, then it turns weird, as Pineapple is not a flavor you think about when eating ice cream.  We had to try it once - and we did - but never again.

The waiter at the counter did 55 of these for a bus group right in front of us - she said she does about 200-300 of these an hour - which is like 2400 a shift - @ $8 each that's a lot of money!

3 miles straight of pineapple fields - unreal.

Avi and Z thought we wouldn't post these pictures...

It was getting later in the afternoon and we still needed to hit the Dole Plantation on the way home - so we headed back south.

This was a rocky cove that isn't very deep protected from the ocean by that rock wall - great for little kids to explore, but you needed water shoes!

We headed across the street and Jen, Z and I snorkled Shark's Cove - they said it was amazing snorkling - saw lots of fish and saw an eel.

We raced back to the rental, popped the battery into the remote and hit the button...beep beep!  It worked.  Thank God.

Jen and I ran over and went to the service desk where the batteries are - no visible 2032's.  I asked the lady behind the counter and she had them!

I googled fixes and it said replace the bettery - but we were in the middle of no where.  Luckily there was a Foodland right next to the food trucks.

We were then headed across the street to Shark's Cove when I noticed the remote control on the rental car was not working......

Z and I got burgers at Seven Brothers Burgers and they did not disappoint.  Avi got tacos and Mom got shrimp - the food was amazing.

Just north of surfing was the best burgers and food trucks around - right across from Shark's Cove - there was a food truck park that had tacos, burgers, Korean food, etc.  

The mountains are crazy on Oahu - they shoot straight out of the ground and are steep.  The local I met said they have people who hike these peaks all the time and they slip and fall and die.  They don't even try to rescue them, because it is so steep, and becaus ethe pigs eat them in no time.  Just sayin.

Luckily, the remote for the rental car still worked.

Z and Mom did great - they each caught some good waves.  Mom did about 5 waves until she got tired, Z did about 9 and killed it.  I have videos, but they are way off from the beach view - so you can hardly make out what they are doing.

Z and Mom kept going with the lsesson - no way I was paddling back out there the 250 yards - my arms and shoulders were killing me - and the wind was brutal.

I didn't do great on my first try, but did ok on my second try.  That was when I noticed I had the car keys tied to the strings on my bathing suit - out in the middle of the ocean - so I made my way back in.

Z went and did great - got up pretty easily.  Mom went and did great as well - the second time she got up and rode in a nice wave a long way.

He gave us lessons on paddling, getting up on the board and basic feet position.  Then Z, me and Jen went out about 250 yards to the surf for our tries.  Avi waited on the beach.

We got our surf boards from his van and tried to cross the street to the beach.  Kalani told us that the waves get up to 60 ft here in the winter when the crazy waves are hitting the north shore.

We had surf lessons next from 11-1pm.  We met the instructor from the North Shore Beack Boyz, Kalani Chapman IG, across the street from Kawailoa Beach.  

Met a local family there - with a black lab Bella - he gave us some other spots to hit - but unfortunately didn't have a lot of time.

Next stop was Waimea Bay Beach - which was beautiful - clear water and our first snorkeling.

This is called the cannonball tree - because it has nuts/fruit in the shape of cannonballs, that will fall out of  the tree and hit you in the head.

If interested, check out the plants and flowers here: Waimea Valley Botanical Garden

The flowers and plants and trees here were amazing - we saw banana plants with chameleon lizards that would change colors, the Heliconia Lobster Claw plants (above), and lots of other cool unique flowers.

Jen, Z and Avi were the second group into the pool and they got to swim under the falls.

First stop at 9am was Waimea Falls ($25 each - but worth it) - which was amazing.  It was about a .75 mile hike in on a paved road through a jungle garden to these falls.

We wanted to get an early start to the day - as we had surf lessons at 11am on the North Shore.

Tuesday 7/18/23 - Day 4

We hit a food court in an outdoor mall (one of 4 or five within a block or two from our hotel) and had dinner at L&L Hawaiian BBQ - which is a chain - but it was awesome!  You might think a food court isn't a place to eat - but because Hawaii has limited areas and expensive rents, resturants will be creative in their locations - outside food courts, food trucks in allies, food trucks in lots, etc.

So, we headed back to the hotel - and did more exploring of the Waikiki area - so many people in the area - and lots to do and see.

We were planning to hit the Waimanalo Country Farms to see the sunflowers, but they were closed on Monday's (nice job Dad!).

Our first bamboo forest stretch in the middle of the hike to the pools.

Our first waterfall of the trip - and something for Z to jump off of.  Lots of locals hanging out - and lots of chickens.

This was a cool little hike - in a rural neighborhood in the middle of nowhere - we actually couldn't find it, but after asking, we just had to do a little hiking.  Past these really cool trees and through our first bamboo forest.
Mom started searching on Yelp for things to do in the area and found this off the beaten path place called the Ginger Pond.

Our second hike of the day was supposed to be at Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail and the tide pools - but the lot was full - and the family was antsy to hit the beach.  We did stop at the bay and take some cool photos of the waves crashing the rocks.

We were supposed to hike the KoKo Crater Trail - which is 1,000 steps - but the family vetoed that idea.

This bay was beautiful and our first look at what Hawaii would be like (beautiful water, rough ocean, mixed with a nice beach).

This area is located on a rocky tough strecth of ocean (on the north facing side of the island is always rough waters).
Headed up the coast, we stopped to see the Halona Blowhole - which was small.  

This bird is actually a cardinal.

Parking lot had our first chicken experience - this rooster wanted our malasadas.

We had the famous malasadas.
After hitting a huge line at the brick and mortar Leonards Bakery - we hit the food truck on the east shores.

Left early to check out the east side of the island.

Monday 7/17/2023 - Day 3

Watching the sunset.

The Banyon Tree in our hotel.

The view looking back towards Waikiki.

The trail - not too rugged, but very steep in places.

On the way out - this is the steep descent out of the bunkers back to the main trail.

This is views of the ocean from the top.

We had reservations to hit Diamondhead - yes, you need a reservation 2 days in advance - which was about 3 miles from our hotel.
Day 2 we had nothing really planned - and we slept in due to jet lag.

Sunday 7/16/2023 - Day 2

Huge Banyan Tree right in the middle of the Moana Surfrider - which is the oldest hotel in Honolulu.

We decided to just hang out on the beach and the hotel and get dinner locally
Head to the Moana Surfrider about 4pm for check in - on way there, the main street in front of hotel was closed due to a street fair.  We got lucky and found the hotel parking in the hotel across the street!
Walked the museums and then took the boat over to the USS Arizona.  Pretty eary.
Drove around a bit and then visited Pearl Harbor for our 2:15 reservation.

The food in Hawaii was pretty damn good!
Stopped for lunch at a cool food court type building - hit Giovanni's Shrimp, a Pho place and a Korean BBQ place - food was awesome!
Rental car was walking distance from terminal - in the car at about 1pm.
Landed in Oahu at about 12pm - beautiful weather about 82 degrees.
This flight (5 hours) was uneventful as well (I slept 3 hours of it).
6:30am flight to Oakland was uneventful - had about a 25 minute layover in Oakland before we had to line up to board for Oahu at 8am.
Dropped bags, went through security and at the gate early.
Woke up at 3am.  Got the kids up, loaded the truck and at airport in Pikes Peak lot at around 4:30am.

Saturday 7/15/2023 - Day 1

Headed to Hawaii for 2 weeks - 5 days in Oahu, followed by 9 days in Maui.
Celebrating my and Jennifer's 50th brithdays, Avi graduating and going to college in a few days, Z headed to HS and winning the National Championship in hockey - and our wedding Anniversary.