Jul 272019

We here at watermanatwork.com travel to some pretty remote places looking for fishing spots and places to ride bikes and we encounter a lot of wildlife. Deer, elk, coyotes, cougars, bears and many smaller mammals, birds and reptiles. We take precautions with food and trash to not attract any of these wild creatures but it seems we are constantly under attack by wild field mice. Mice have gotten into the cab and camper shell of my truck a number of times and caused damage from chewing and made a big mess for such a small animal.

I made a few simple and inexpensive modifications to my vehicle, a 2005 Toyota Tacoma, to keep the mice out of the cab and engine of my truck. Most vehicles will have a similar layout, this article is just to give you the general idea of what to do.

You will need some hardware cloth. It’s the screen material used to keep small animals out of gardens. I used 23 ga. 1/4″ mesh screen. Don’t use window screening because it may get clogged with dirt and block air flow. You will also need wire cutters to cut the screen material and maybe a few zip ties.

We will use the hardware cloth to block openings from the vehicle interior to the outside. The main opening is the vent that supplies air to the vehicle interior. Usually, it is under the hood, perhaps near the windshield wipers like it is on my Tacoma truck.

Cabin air intake vent on a 2005 Toyota Tacoma

Measure the vent and cut the hardware cloth to size. It doesn’t have to be exact because we will bend the screen over the edges of the vent. I like to leave the mesh of the screen intact if possible.

Cut hardware cloth to the size of the cabin air intake vent

Place the screen over the vent and do some creative bending to fit the vent without leaving any gaps or holes. Mice can get through the smallest openings. Bending the screen over the vent was fairly secure, but I used a couple zip ties to be sure the screen stays in place.

Rodent proof screen cover for cabin air intake vent

While I had everything I needed, I made a screen cover for the air intake vent of the truck engine. This is a vent from the outside of the vehicle, behind the grill or over a wheel well, that supplies air to the engine. A mouse crawled in here and made nest next to the air filter, blocking the air and making the truck run poorly. I cut and bent the hardware cloth to fit over this air intake and secured it with zip ties to prevent any further mouse nesting in the truck engine.

Rodent proof screen cover for engine air intake vent

Not only will these modifications keep rodents out, they will also keep leaves, pine needles and debris from clogging the ventilation system. Of course you have to be sure to close your vehicle doors or the mice will simply enter through the open door.

Feb 232019

Despite an all day rain event a couple days earlier, about 2:45AM, a wildfire broke out in the lower Colorado River watershed north of Yuma, AZ. We happened to be camping less than a mile away from where the fire broke out.

Wildfire breaks out in the lower Colorado River watershed on the CA/AZ border

By sunrise, the fire was burning strong. It had been windy overnight but the wind calmed for a few hours just as the fire started, allowing it to get burning. The wind was kicking in as the sun came up.

Desert wildfire burns at sunrise in the lower Colorado River basin

The wind increased from southwest to about 10mph, pushing the fire across the Colorado River floodplain. The fire was only about 150 yards wide, but moving across the marshy terrain like a tornado of fire.

Wildfire burns across the desert like a tornado of fire

From far too much experience with wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and southern California, we know that dark smoke is combustible material burning and white smoke is what happens when water is put on the fire. This fire is burning across the backwaters of the Colorado River; mostly reed-like plants floating on top of the water. This fire is inaccessible by vehicle, the white smoke is the burning plants and trees extinguished by river water.

Wildfire burning across the Colorado River flood plain

It seems likely this fire was started by humans. The fire seems to have started at the end of a dirt road. Swamps don’t usually start burning on their own. Fireworks or open fire is most likely the cause.

Information on the fire seemed to be somewhat inaccurate.

The internet has the latest up to date fire information

Fueled by a steady 10mph wind with stronger gusts, by that afternoon, the fire had burned a steady path across the Colorado River backwater. Didn’t stop the bass fishermen from getting a close look at the fire while they fished for the big one.

Fire burns between the Colorado River and Mittry Lake in southwest Arizona

By sunset, the wind continued to blow and the fire continued to burn. The fire had gone from one large fire to a number of smaller fires due to the water dividing the combustible fuel sources.

Wildfire burns just before sunset in the lower Colorado River basin

The fires continued to burn until the early hours of the next morning when the wind changed the direction of the fire and blew it back over the area that had just burned and many of the fires went out. Hot spots still remained and the wind had changed direction yet again and was blowing up to 20mph.

Wind changes direction and blows fires back over recently burned area, putting out many of them

By early afternoon, the wind had picked up and was blowing 15mph with gusts around 20mph or more, igniting several hot spots and the fire was burning again.

Strong afternoon winds ignite several hot spots from the previous day

At sunset, the strong winds continued and the fire was again burning into the second night.

Strong winds continued and the fire was again burning into the second night

The night was overcast, the wind subsided and early the following morning, there was light rain. At sunrise, the fire was reduced to a couple hot spots in an area with more water than burnable plants and trees.

Calm wind and light rain overnight help reduce the fire to a few hot spots

After burning about three days, the fire was nearly burned out and fire crews were mopping up hot spots and assessing damage.

Dec 192018

We are doing a bit of remodeling here at the watermanatwork.com World Headquarters. We’ve started off by adding a new category to the watermanatwork.com blog called WatermanAtWork Journal. It will be a running journal of some of our experiences as we travel around the United States and beyond in search of adventure. Not quite sure how it will go, but we seem to run into a lot of things in the course of our travels so stay tuned!