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First Officer's Log Days 4 - 7, Utah Expedition

This is the 2nd in a series of posts about our recent trip to Utah

Rhus and needles

USS Puma Palace - First Officer's Log
2.10.2015 Expedition Day 4

The day started with a mostly cloudy sunrise as we broke camp and started toward our next destination of Kodachrome Basin State Park. Approximately 12 miles into the Utah area, we suffered a mechanical malfunction of the Number 1 starboard traction device on the living module (aka Puma Palace). The Captain had the helm at the time of the incident and was able to find possibly the only sufficiently wide location to change the failed device.

Inspection by the First Officer revealed that not only was the tire destroyed but the malfunction had also removed the starboard fender flare. The loss of support caused the #2 starboard traction device to rub on the upper wheel well resulting in abrasion wear thru the underlying water piping. Additionally the starboard fender flare when it departed the vehicle caused wrinkling and deformity damage to the lower starboard fore metal flashing ahead of the wheel well. One of the attachment points of this metal piece was pulled loose and not available for re-attachment, as the resulting hole in the sheet metal was too large.

Fortunately, the First Officer with the aid of the Captain was able to affect a change of traction devices and utilized the spare traction device to replace the shredded one. He was also able to re-attach the lower starboard fore metal flashing using an underlying metal screw. After an hour of on-site repairs the mission vehicle returned to travel and proceeded onward to the town of Beaver.

In Beaver, we were able to locate a shop specializing in repair of wheels. While in dry-dock for wheel repair, the maintenance techs also determined that the other three tires were near failure. Further inspection also revealed that the suspension components were very worn and may have contributed to the initial incident. The Puma Palace crew made the decision to move forward and implement repairs of the suspension components and all four tires. Approximately 1 hour later the Puma Palace proceeded to a depot purporting to purvey Puma Palace parts. Two fittings were obtained that were estimated as being sufficient to fix the H2O supply lines. The crew then refueled and resumed travel towards the goal of the day. The people of Beaver rejoiced at their good fortunes and that many children would now be able to attend tertiary schooling, all thanks to the repair and maintenance of the Puma Palace.

Upon arriving at our pre-arranged camp location in Kodachrome Basin, the First Officer attempted to fix the problematic H2O supply line. A sufficiently tight seal was unable to be obtained due to the abrasion incurred by the line. This resulted in a 6-8 cm flat spot on the supply line obviating a sufficient compression seal. Decision was made by the crew to seek additional tubing to replace the damaged line at nearby towns tomorrow. The crew ended their day late and tired. Hopefully, the parts will be easy to find tomorrow and we can return to our imaging mission.

Log reviewed by Captain. First Officer counseled for insufficient detail. Will attempt to rectify in future.

3.10.2015 Expedition Day 5
A parts requisition trip was on the schedule this AM. This took us to the local villages of Tropic and Panguitch. We were able to locate tubing in Tropic but few other parts so we retrograded to Panguitch. This slightly larger community not only had a hardware store (full size) but a vehicle parts store. We availed ourselves of the opportunity and obtained parts to complete the H2O supply line repair. We also obtained an additional DEF supply. Seems like the new power unit (aka “Buzz”) goes thru DEF like the First Officer goes through malted barley beverages. (The First Officer has been counseled by the Captain for such behavior and warned by the Medical Officer (also the Captain) that he may not be able to get thru the main hatch. OK that may have been an exaggeration. Again, the First Officer was counseled by the Captain for hyperbole. And counseled for saying too often that the First Officer has been counseled; the First Officer may be in trouble.)

After obtaining parts, we decided to recon the Bryce Canyon National Park. We visited Bryce Point where large shiploads of hundreds of people from other political subdivisions were dropped. These hordes have no sense of propriety when it comes to interpersonal space. We managed to find our way to the southernmost portion of the park where the elevation reaches in excess of 9100 of the local feet units of distance. We also experienced low volume precipitation the locals refer to as sprinkles. As velocity limits are quite low in this area, and we did a thorough recon job, we returned to our current camp near sunset. The decision was made to return tomorrow, prior to sunrise, to continue our imaging mission.

 

4.10.2015 Expedition Day 6
0515. Wake up for crew.
0525. Crew Breakfast
0545. Depart for Bryce Point
0630 Arrive Bryce Point
0635 Deploy imaging equipment

We held to the schedule and were the first to arrive at the designated point. This was well in advance of the official sunrise time of 0726. We found on arrival a brightening eastern horizon and clear skies. Not optimal for imaging. By sunrise, the hordes had descended on our location. Having arrived early we refused to budge from our selected locations. Images were collected until the sun had reached approximately 17 degrees above the horizon. By this point the hordes had again dispersed to other locales and the Captain and I were alone on the point. We disassembled our equipment and returned to the Shuttle Craft “Buzz”. As we departed the docking space, several of the large personnel carriers arrived and began to disgorge another horde. Our timing was nothing if not good.

Bryce Canyon Pano #3.jpg

We then returned to the camp/temporary maintenance bay. Upon arrival the First Officer implemented the temporary repairs to the Puma Palace. The H2O supply lines were deemed repaired, the wheel well skirting was temporarily fixed using the magic of “Duct Tape”. (Duct Tape may be worshipped as a gift of the Gods in some remote locations according to reports we have heard. The First Officer finds this entirely likely and reasonable.)

After repairs, we explored the area near Grosvenor Arch. This double arch is removed from the hordes by 11 miles of dirt road. Therefore, the hordes were absent. We did encounter 5-6 other vehicles exploring the area but the crew enjoyed the solitude of the experience. We would have explored farther afield but the road had been deemed impassable and closed. Clouds pregnant with precipitation were approaching rapidly so we returned to camp. Evening skies were lit with flashes of sheet lightning and our sleep period interrupted with the sound of sometimes moderate rainfall.

5.10.2015 Expedition Day 7
Today we decided to return to the Hall of the Hoodoos (aka Bryce Canyon). The rainfall overnight continued today. The Captain even observed one cloud-to-ground lightning strike. The First Officer immediately implemented the lightning detection protocol and deployed the automatic triggering system for the imaging system. Unfortunately, no further lightning was observed and the system remains untested in practice (although the crew did successfully test the equipment pre-deployment at Fall River Base). Many images were made but the crew found the results less than satisfactory as the atmospheric conditions were deemed dull and uninteresting. Heavy rain was observed in the vicinity of camp. The Captain was able to communicate via text with the detached shore parties in San Diego (ASE Scottie) and Glynco (SA(T) Heather). All seems satisfactory at both locations. ASE Scottie had completed a Ragnar Relay (which is not a piece of aerospace engineering as one would expect but a long distance foot race). SA(T) Heather continues her training and is looking forward to completion of this phase in 2 weeks. Travel routes on the return trip to camp were very muddy where runoff had overtopped the road in many locations. Rainfall seems to be a common occurrence that has been poorly planned for in this area. Tomorrow we move camp locations.

Bryce Canyon Pano1.jpg

Log transmission ends. Standby for future log segment...

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