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  1. #1
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    lighting for nightime forest ride

    I plan to get some kind of head light mounted on my bike that will give me enough visability to ride in the woods at night. I dont know what kind of light setup would be best. I saw a three led cateye and a single led cateye at the store. Also I am interested in the DIY halogen 12v 20W setup. Can anyone give me pros on cons of these type of setups please ?

  2. #2
    Slow and Steady ClanLee's Avatar
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    Another thought: Fenix Digital L2D Black Premium Q5
    For 1/5th the price of a cateye triple shot. I don't know how bright the cateye is, but the Fenix is AWESOME! I use it for night riding on city streets and night trails. On the city streets, the lights do not get washed out and I feel that I can see well and drivers CANNOT miss me. On the trails, it's like riding in the day, it's THAT bright!

    https://www.fenix-store.com/product_...roducts_id=362

  3. #3
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    One light that I have had good luck with is the Niterider MINEWT X2 Dual.
    It throws out a nice beam and since it is on two seperate lights, you can adjust one to be close and the farther out. It give you some flexibility.

    The only drawback is that the batteries will only last a little under two hours at high intensity (3 and half hours at low intensity).

    I have had mine for about 7 months now and I am very happy with it.

    I hope this helps.

  4. #4
    Senior Member akatsuki's Avatar
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    Fenix L2D is great, but the form factor is long which means I bump it a lot when not thinking about it and there isn't a ton of side-spill to see around with. I am definitely thinking about trying to break one apart into a separate battery pack, cause that would just about make it perfect. Plus they are cheap and use standard rechargeable AAs, so you can always find a replacement battery when needed. I regret not buying two or three of them.
    Current: Lynskey R210 | Miyata 610
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    Also I am interested in the DIY halogen 12v 20W setup.
    Are you an experienced DIY person? If so you might consider building an LED headlight. DX now has a triple aluminum reflector for high power Cree and SSC LED's. You can easily build a headlight thats brighter than an MR-16 20-watt halogen light with no where near the power drain. The three LED's can be sandwiched between the reflector and an old CPU heat sink.

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.11922


    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.2394


    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3256
    You'll have an extra driver but don't worry, you can use it in the DIY taillight.



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  6. #6
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    Pond Scum is the answer

    Build a Pond Scum, you won't be dissappointed. Be sure to overvolt to 14.4V's to get maximum light ouptut.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=245737

    Bar Mounted


    Helmet mounted

  7. #7
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB01245 View Post
    Build a Pond Scum, you won't be dissappointed. Be sure to overvolt to 14.4V's to get maximum light ouptut.
    And/or a set of Retinal Burners. Get more than one lamp and make sure you have one mounted on your head. And don't mess around with only 12V...get the extra 2 cells

    When riding off-road at night, make sure that you are on trails you know. Ride with only a little light on up hills and save the burners for downhill. It's also a good idea to know how long your batteries will last before you go getting 20 miles away from civilization.

    The main reason you should have more than one light is if something goes wrong but it's also wise to carry an LED back up flashlight. It is absolutely no fun stumbling around in the dark, in the woods, in the middle of the night without a light. Been there done that.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Pig_Chaser's Avatar
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    Here's a quick list of pros and cons off the top of my head and speaking strictly from my experience. Hope it helps.

    DIY Halogen Pros:
    -Most lumens per buck period
    -Excellent quality of light (ie colour temperature for discerning details)
    -Cheap bulbs, lots of selection for beam angles (online anyway not so much at home depot).
    -Simple and reliable.

    DIY Halogen Cons:
    -Short Run time...(this is the killer for most people considering Halogen despite all the pros)
    -Batteries/Chargers are expensive.... or heavy and bulky.

    DIY LED Pros
    -Fairly bright, starting to come close to Halogen
    -Less power consumed/longer runtime
    -Cheaper lighter batteries

    DIY LED Cons
    -Lower quality of light (tends to be bluish/higher colour temp, less useful for discerning detail)
    -Higher level of electronics understanding required.
    -Heat sinking requirements

    Proffesional lights Pros
    -Small and light
    -Easy to install, ready to go out of the box

    Proffesional light Cons
    -Expensive! They're manufactured for a small market.
    -Possibly not as much light as a DIY set up. Certainly less than 2x20W overvolted Halogens....

  9. #9
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    Pig_Chaser - Very nicely said. Only one thing I can think of adding -

    Professional light Cons
    - most professional LED lights are using LED's that are about a year behind what is the latest and the greatest.

  10. #10
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    right now the diy halogens seem more attractive. I can build a test rig for like 5$ just to see what to expect and see if I want to focus more on this. Battery is still unknown. A buddy of mine can supply me with very small 12v led acid batteries (unknown amp hours until I go over and check but free!!!), Also I have access to small selection of left over laptop lion 4000+ 10.5 and 14.4v packs. If the lighting turns out very clear and bright with the halogens, I will try and focus on power supply. If that fails I will move on to diy leds.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    I plan to get some kind of head light mounted on my bike that will give me enough visability to ride in the woods at night. I dont know what kind of light setup would be best. I saw a three led cateye and a single led cateye at the store. Also I am interested in the DIY halogen 12v 20W setup. Can anyone give me pros on cons of these type of setups please ?
    I have 3 bike lights:
    1- NiteRider Digital Evolution 5/10/15 watt settings (this was my first bike light; I picked it up marked down from $239 to $30 at an REI Garage Sale, too good to pass up!)
    2- Fenix L2D Premium Q5 (cost = approx. $60 w/S/H)
    3- DiNotte 200L (cost = sale price of $100 through DiNotte without batteries or charger - takes AA batteries - plus S/H)

    I have done a lot of night riding on very technical singletrack (if you're in the Pacific Northwest: Tapeworm, Skookum Flats, Banner Forest, Lake Sawyer, and Capitol Forest), all with the NiteRider, mostly at the 10 watt setting (before I got #2 and #3 above). The Fenix and DiNotte are both noticeably brighter than the NiteRider's 15 watt setting. I'm currently on a hiatus from mountain biking due to time constraints: I'm stuck on the road for now. When I do more night single-track riding in the future, I'll use the Fenix on the helmet/DiNotte on the bar setup.

    For any but the fastest downhill singletrack (anything less than 15- 20 mph, which most night riding is), one Fenix on a helmet would suffice.
    Good luck!
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  12. #12
    Seņor Member ericy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JB01245 View Post
    Pig_Chaser - Very nicely said. Only one thing I can think of adding -

    Professional light Cons
    - most professional LED lights are using LED's that are about a year behind what is the latest and the greatest.
    True, but some of these lights can be retrofitted with newer emitters as they become available. I spent 20$ and roughly doubled the amount of light coming from my lights - if even better emitters come along, I could easily do it again.

  13. #13
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericy View Post
    True, but some of these lights can be retrofitted with newer emitters as they become available. I spent 20$ and roughly doubled the amount of light coming from my lights - if even better emitters come along, I could easily do it again.
    The latest offering from SSC.

    http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.11809
    SSC P7 W724C0-BSYPI 3.6V~4.2V 12W LED Emitter (Bare) 570~740 lumen's in a single emitter package.
    These will be replacing those mercury filled curly Q lights in your house very soon.
    I can't wait for compatible optics so I can use it on my bike and for my motorcycle headlight.
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  14. #14
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pig_Chaser View Post

    DIY LED Pros
    -Fairly bright, starting to come close to Halogen
    -Less power consumed/longer runtime
    -Cheaper lighter batteries

    DIY LED Cons
    -Lower quality of light (tends to be bluish/higher colour temp, less useful for discerning detail)
    -Higher level of electronics understanding required.
    -Heat sinking requirements
    6 months ago the above statements were true. LED technology is progressing rapidly.
    New LED's are now brighter than halogen and the color is closer to a pure white.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by akatsuki View Post
    Fenix L2D is great, but the form factor is long which means I bump it a lot when not thinking about it and there isn't a ton of side-spill to see around with. I am definitely thinking about trying to break one apart into a separate battery pack, cause that would just about make it perfect. Plus they are cheap and use standard rechargeable AAs, so you can always find a replacement battery when needed. I regret not buying two or three of them.
    That's quite odd. How do you have the light mounted? I have never had a problem bumping into mine mounted on my bars with a Two Fish mount.

  16. #16
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    I just got back from the local electronics shop they sell the mr16's 20watt for 1.99$ canadian!!! unfortunately they have no sockets... I found for 9.99$ a fully enclosed metal type fixture that comes with a 55watt halogen bulb and the wire/tab outside ready for any power source. The thing is, it took just the bulb, not like the mr16's which have there own housing and different sized pins. Are there any kind of bulbs I can get for this kind of fixture that might be just as good as a mr16 ?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by macro View Post
    I just got back from the local electronics shop they sell the mr16's 20watt for 1.99$ canadian!!! unfortunately they have no sockets... I found for 9.99$ a fully enclosed metal type fixture that comes with a 55watt halogen bulb and the wire/tab outside ready for any power source. The thing is, it took just the bulb, not like the mr16's which have there own housing and different sized pins. Are there any kind of bulbs I can get for this kind of fixture that might be just as good as a mr16 ?
    For reasons beyond me to fully understand the only way to get a socket compatible with the MR-16 bulbs is to purchase the entire fixture and remove the socket from it. I've looked very hard in the past when I was playing around with halogen lights to find a source for MR-16 sockets to no avail. I've progressed past halogen so I'm not to worried about that stuff now. LED's are so much easier. Here is a view of a headlight I built using two SSC Z-power LED's , a 15X30 degree lens, a 10 degree lens, mounted in a standard outdoor aluminum electrical outlet box. The entire box is working as a heat sink so overheating is never a problem. Once the cover with clear plastic is mounted it's totally waterproof. I'm powering it with a dynamo so no batteries are required or wanted. Lumen output at 7 MPH and faster is 240 so it's roughly equivalent to a 10-watt halogen bulb but with 85% efficient optics light output appears brighter than a 15-watt MR-16 halogen bulb.


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  18. #18
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    Excellent idea, using the outlet box and recepticle cover.
    I imagine a person could fit some AA batteries in there as well.

  19. #19
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou View Post
    For reasons beyond me to fully understand the only way to get a socket compatible with the MR-16 bulbs is to purchase the entire fixture and remove the socket from it. I've looked very hard in the past when I was playing around with halogen lights to find a source for MR-16 sockets to no avail.
    Sockets for halogen is readily available from Battery Space. A Google search for MR16 sockets pulls up about 41,000 hits, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou View Post
    I've progressed past halogen so I'm not to worried about that stuff now. LED's are so much easier. Here is a view of a headlight I built using two SSC Z-power LED's , a 15X30 degree lens, a 10 degree lens, mounted in a standard outdoor aluminum electrical outlet box. The entire box is working as a heat sink so overheating is never a problem. Once the cover with clear plastic is mounted it's totally waterproof. I'm powering it with a dynamo so no batteries are required or wanted. Lumen output at 7 MPH and faster is 240 so it's roughly equivalent to a 10-watt halogen bulb but with 85% efficient optics light output appears brighter than a 15-watt MR-16 halogen bulb.
    I not sure I agree with the statement that LEDs are easier. At it's simplest, halogen requires a battery, a wire and a bulb. You can go more complicated with connectors and a switch but you don't anything more than that. LED requires more circuitry and added optics to get it up and running.
    Stuart Black
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  20. #20
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    LED is simple. Here's what you need for major components.

    LED
    Led lens
    driver
    simple switch/potentiometer
    battery

    That's it. Not only that, dimming is easier, there's a much need highly visible flashing mode, 200 lumens flashing at 10 hertz is ridiculously bright, and much more noticeable than a 700 lumen steady light, you just can't miss it.

    Overall, it's much more portable, transferable, and lighter (think 4 AAs battery plus 100 grams for the light).

    I'm dumping the battery system to trails on later on this year, I'm planning to use dynamo hubs exclusively for road, if the project LED lumens comes out later this year, you can probably get 700 lumens at 10 miles an hour.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Tapeworm21's Avatar
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    Kind of a cool little article... good place to start I suppose.

    http://www.bikemag.com/gear/accessor...t_1/index.html
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  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    LED is simple. Here's what you need for major components.

    LED
    Led lens
    driver
    simple switch/potentiometer
    battery
    You are forgetting the heat sink. And which driver? How do you choose? What does the driver do? Any other things you have to take into consideration for the LED to work? I've looked at what schematics I can find that and there's a whole lot more to them than a lamp, a battery and a wire. I'm not an electronics guy and the whole schemer looks very complicated.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    That's it. Not only that, dimming is easier, there's a much need highly visible flashing mode, 200 lumens flashing at 10 hertz is ridiculously bright, and much more noticeable than a 700 lumen steady light, you just can't miss it.
    I have never understood the need for dimming of lights. I've never needed dimmer lights...if anything I want brighter! That's why I ride with 3 lamps putting out 1600 lumens...each! The only weapon I have at night on a bike is my lights and I'm already carrying a knife into a gunfight, why would I trade my knife for a rock?

    As for the whole flashing thing, I've never understood the need. I'd much rather have a steady lamp that gives me good illumination of the road so that I can see hazards before I run into them. If I need to get a driver's attention, I have a very powerful (we're talking 100 m or more of throw) helmet light that gets far more attention than 200 lm of flashing light. Just riding down the road, my helmet light is moving all over the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    Overall, it's much more portable, transferable, and lighter (think 4 AAs battery plus 100 grams for the light).
    Personally, I don't care about lightness of the unit. I care much more about illumination, i.e. light output. My system may not be as light as an LED but I can throw down much more light than any LED (or even HID) system currently made...commercial or DIY. I also have enough run time for what I need it to do. If I were doing rides that lasted longer than my current capacity (around 2.5 hour), I might consider LED. Or I could just carry a larger capacity battery.

    Transferability is a function of the mounts you use. Some DIY LED systems don't look too transferable to me. Some DIY halogen systems can, and are, transfer from bike-to-bike in seconds. Personally, I wouldn't have a system that couldn't be easily transfered.
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  23. #23
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    LED is simple. Here's what you need for major components.

    LED
    Led lens
    driver
    simple switch/potentiometer
    battery

    That's it. Not only that, dimming is easier, there's a much need highly visible flashing mode, 200 lumens flashing at 10 hertz is ridiculously bright, and much more noticeable than a 700 lumen steady light, you just can't miss it.

    Overall, it's much more portable, transferable, and lighter (think 4 AAs battery plus 100 grams for the light).

    I'm dumping the battery system to trails on later on this year, I'm planning to use dynamo hubs exclusively for road, if the project LED lumens comes out later this year, you can probably get 700 lumens at 10 miles an hour.
    It's gets even simpler when your driving high power LED's with any standard 6 volt
    3 watt bicycle dynamo. This is the circuit I use on my touring bike with a tire driven bottle type dynamo.

    I only show one high power LED in the headlight circuit just to keep everything as simple as possible. Here is a site showing many dynamo driven LED circuits utilizing up to 6 high power LED's driven from a single dynamo. http://www.pilom.com/BicycleElectron...moCircuits.htm
    When I am on a tour I take along a GPS unit and use the dynamo to keep it recharged. Here is a description of the circuit.
    My new LED headlight and USB dynamo circuit.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    You are forgetting the heat sink. And which driver? How do you choose? What does the driver do? Any other things you have to take into consideration for the LED to work? I've looked at what schematics I can find that and there's a whole lot more to them than a lamp, a battery and a wire. I'm not an electronics guy and the whole schemer looks very complicated.
    LED technology is overwhelming to those without any experience in electronics. I can understand that.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I have never understood the need for dimming of lights. I've never needed dimmer lights...if anything I want brighter! That's why I ride with 3 lamps putting out 1600 lumens...each! The only weapon I have at night on a bike is my lights and I'm already carrying a knife into a gunfight, why would I trade my knife for a rock?

    As for the whole flashing thing, I've never understood the need. I'd much rather have a steady lamp that gives me good illumination of the road so that I can see hazards before I run into them. If I need to get a driver's attention, I have a very powerful (we're talking 100 m or more of throw) helmet light that gets far more attention than 200 lm of flashing light. Just riding down the road, my helmet light is moving all over the road.
    I personally find anything over 1000 lumens an overkill, and yes, I have used a 1000 lumens worth of pure white LED beams on the road. The colour is much whiter than car's HID lamp. Dimming is an option I prefer because one, there are times where I actually don't want that much light on the road, we're talking <300 lumens.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Personally, I don't care about lightness of the unit. I care much more about illumination, i.e. light output. My system may not be as light as an LED but I can throw down much more light than any LED (or even HID) system currently made...commercial or DIY. I also have enough run time for what I need it to do. If I were doing rides that lasted longer than my current capacity (around 2.5 hour), I might consider LED. Or I could just carry a larger capacity battery.

    Transferability is a function of the mounts you use. Some DIY LED systems don't look too transferable to me. Some DIY halogen systems can, and are, transfer from bike-to-bike in seconds. Personally, I wouldn't have a system that couldn't be easily transfered.
    Lightness to me is also a moot point, a lot of commerical and DIY LED systems are not very transferable, it's transferable depending on how you make the system, most of the DIY LED has such poor mounting system, it's almost laughable (no offense to those with crappy mounts). Another issue is, I dislike using large amount of batteries, and I like my batteries (AA) to be transferable to any electronics in the household. Thus, no use of proprietary battery for a specific purpose. I have ridden 5 hours at night, it's nice to have a dimming option to conserve battery so I don't have to carry one all the time. You can certainly argue I don't have to worry about conserving battery if I brought a bigger battery along instead, leaving the light on at full power is overkill, I prefer to dim my lights because I don't need the full 700 lumens. Most of the road I ride on are empty and dark at 2:00am, IMO there is no need for 1000 lumens.

    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou View Post
    It's gets even simpler when your driving high power LED's with any standard 6 volt
    3 watt bicycle dynamo. This is the circuit I use on my touring bike with a tire driven bottle type dynamo.
    I only show one high power LED in the headlight circuit just to keep everything as simple as possible. Here is a site showing many dynamo driven LED circuits utilizing up to 6 high power LED's driven from a single dynamo. http://www.pilom.com/BicycleElectron...moCircuits.htm
    When I am on a tour I take along a GPS unit and use the dynamo to keep it recharged. Here is a description of the circuit.
    My new LED headlight and USB dynamo circuit.
    I'm planning to use circuit #10, I didn't want the autoswitching as I like to control the light output instead of having the brightest mode all the time. No, I'm not planning to use 6, that's an overkill with Seoul P4s. 4 is enough. Tire driven is not going to cut it here, most of the time it's wet.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    LED technology is overwhelming to those without any experience in electronics. I can understand that.
    See n4zou post below. I could make more sense out of Egyptian hieroglyphics


    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    I personally find anything over 1000 lumens an overkill, and yes, I have used a 1000 lumens worth of pure white LED beams on the road. The colour is much whiter than car's HID lamp. Dimming is an option I prefer because one, there are times where I actually don't want that much light on the road, we're talking <300 lumens.
    Although stringing together enough of any lamp to make 1000 lm still gives the same amount of light, the quality of 1000 lm from 5 sources isn't the same as 1000 lm (or 1600) from a single source. The amount of light that you use is a personal choice. I ride mostly urban settings and I need something that is impolite, brash and eye catching. If a driver looks at me and wonders what that thing is when I'm 500 m off, I figure the lights have done their job.


    Quote Originally Posted by mrbubbles View Post
    I'm planning to use circuit #10, I didn't want the autoswitching as I like to control the light output instead of having the brightest mode all the time. No, I'm not planning to use 6, that's an overkill with Seoul P4s. 4 is enough. Tire driven is not going to cut it here, most of the time it's wet.
    Huh

    A prime example of why I don't think LED is a simple as you say
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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