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June 18, 2017

Happy Birthday Pluvius!

   I knew ravens were smart birds but sometimes the things they do can be surprising.  After a hike Laura and I came back to my car to find that two ravens had managed to open the bag on the front of my bike and pulls out all my energy gel packs.  Not sure if they could smell them or just figured something like that would be inside, but they had to open a zipper in order to accomplish this task which they clearly had done.  However, after getting the energy gel they either couldn't eat it or didn't like it.  So it was spread all over my trunk.
   Birthday shout out to Pluvius!
   A group of us regularly go to State Street for breakfast at the Short Stack on Friday mornings and it has been a ritual now for well over a year.  I usually bicycle in.  Recently they installed bike racks directly in front of their store and apparently had to fight the city for the right to do so.  I'm glad they did because I don't have to walk across any busy streets or park far away now.  And they have made the rack a cozy!
Fully Functional

Fully Functional

   When I got back home it was time to do two weeks of wash, but for some reason my cloths were taking forever to dry.  At first I just figured it was because the weather had temperatures in the 90s and humidity to match.  As I investigated the vent for the dryer to see if it was clogged I noticed it wasn't warm.  After watching the dryer for a little while it became clear that no heat was being generated because the dryer was not lighting off. 
   We have a natural gas dryer and when the burner is running it is fairly apparent from the sound.  So I pulled the front of the dryer off and confirmed there was, in fact, no flame.  I could see the igniter glowing for a few seconds but then just turn off.  No gas was being applied.  My first instinct was to test various sensors thinking.  There is some kind of IR sensor that can detect if the igniter is on.  There are also various temperature sensors.  None looked to be a problem.  So I consulted the Internet. 
   I found a couple videos that showed various symptoms and solutions, and after viewing a couple found one that talked about the exact problem I was having.  It said the coils that open the valves could be bad and to check them with an ohm meter.  I have an ohm meter and did this.  Sure enough, one of my coils had infinite resistance meaning there was no electrical connection.  I ordered a replacement pair of coils for my particular dryer for all of $8 and they arrived today.  Took about 2 minutes to install them and sure enough when I started the dryer the igniter started to glow, there was a pronounced click, and flames erupted in the burn chamber. 
   I have had to do maintenance on both my washer and dryer over the years and it was always been fairly straightforward.  They are one of the few devices people still own that one can do their own maintenance on.
 
   Laura gifted me a camp stove that is fueled by small pieces of wood.  An electric fan provides a draft for the burn chamber and allows the stove to get really hot.  Some kind of thermoelectric generator uses the heat to both power the fan as well as charge USB devices.  I found the cooking abilities of the stove impressive.  The electrical system is more sketchy.  Seems there is a sweet spot one must find in terms of temperature when the USB charger work.  Too cool it won't work, too hot it won't work.  However, cooking with it is the best. 

June 10, 2017

Canadian Rockies Trip—Day 14

   My time left in Canada was coming to a close.  I crossed the border into North Dakota without much issue.  My epic marshmallow stick was confiscated by the border guards, but I thought it might be.  Aside from that they didn't hassle me which is a new experience.  My goal had been to reach Minneapolis.  Apparently they don't roller skate in Canada and I couldn't find a rink in any of the cities I passed through.  So I decided to skate in Minneapolis.  I found a rink on the north side of the city and skated for a couple hours.  However the temperature had not fallen.  In fact, the temperatures were forecast to be in the 90s the following day and not to drop below the upper 70s for the evening.  I can't sleep in temperatures like that.  Looking at the map I saw I was only 4 hours from home and decided to finish off the trip.
   I arrived back at Elmwood Park around 2:00 am.  In my 14 days of travel I covered 4,337 miles, 6 states, 4 Canadian provinces, visited 3 national parks, took over 6,000 pictures, and biked up 2,700 feet of mountain.