25 August 2021

Happy 10th Anniversary Mountainman's Mantra!! 25 August 2021


Sunrise in Sedgewick (Photo by VA McMillan)

WOW!! Where did that decade go?? Anyone else surprised that Mountainman's Mantra is still here a decade later?? Thank you to all of you who visit, look at the pics, and read the stories. I hope you have enjoyed your time here.

As this epic post was approaching I was going to have this as the 200th post on the 10th anniversary...so, close, this is the 199th post on Mountainman's Mantra!! Life happens and plans must be amended. 

I have no regrets. I have learned a lot since starting this blog and I look forward to learn even more. First big lesson was to ensure to have a header picture. When blog links are posted on other websites the picture shows up as a thumbnail or larger and that helps folks decide to click and look. The other lesson was to post as often as possible, with material that is worth reading or pictures worth seeing or projects worth making. I try to keep this blog free of useless fluff and of course, sometimes I try to challenge myself and the reader by presenting topics or opinions that challenge the status quo. Some days, you just have to exercise your freedom of expression. As readers you also get to exercise your freedom of choice and that may include not reading some of the things I post. I believe in freedom and we should all be allowed to respect the free choices folks make. If we all made the same choices we will lose the diversity that makes up the human race...and that would be too boring.

I will do my best to continue to post thought provoking materials for the next decade...and beyond!!

Until next time...celebrate your milestones!!


22 August 2021

Tahoe Mod: Keyboard Tray Completes Back Seat Work Area


This blog post will complete a recent series of posts on modifying the Tahoe for work and adventure. For past posts please click on these links:

Sleep Platform: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/tahoe-mods-sleep-platform-designed-by.html 

Rear Console Project: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/tahoe-mods-rear-console-project.html

Tablet Mount Project: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/improving-amazon-basic-vehicle-tablet.html

Tool Roll: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/tool-roll-designed-by-satas-co-for.html

Compressor Tote: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/viair-88p-12v-portable-air-compressor.html

Cargo Organizer: https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/building-cargo-organizer-for-my-vehicle.html

So, to complete the working area in the back of the Tahoe, a keyboard tray was needed to allow me to type with the Tablet mounted on the back of the front passenger seat headrest. I wanted a keyboard tray that was easy to adjust and affordable to build. From one of the previous projects, I still had a piece of ¾” plywood that was larger than the Logitech K380 keyboard, so that is where I would start. In designing this tray, I would round the corners and centre the keyboard on the piece of wood. A recess just a bit larger than the keyboard would be routered out. To prevent the keyboard from sliding off the tray. For this task I would have to ask my friend Mark for some help. The recess was made about 3/16” into the tray. Surprisingly the keyboard must be near vertical before it wants to fall out of the tray!! Amazing.

Once the recess was created, I was able to finish the remaining tasks at home. Using my manual brace with a 3/8” spade bit, I drilled the four (4) holes for the supporting cords that would hold the keyboard tray in place.

The tray was finished with Minwax Golden Oak stain and all edges were rounded with a rasp and sandpaper. Once dry the tray was test fitted below the Tablet mount. While these pics were taken with the cords being held in place by tying knots, this has since be upgraded to using cord lock which offer more precise adjustments to keep the keyboard tray at a proper work angle.

The completion of this project makes the Tahoe ready for adventure and work. The new sleeping pad on the sleeping platform works as expected. I will have the opportunity in the next few days to put all the mods through their paces. So far all is working well.

Until next time…Make the solution work for you!!


28 July 2021

Tahoe Mods: Rear Console Project (Designed by SATAS Co)


Camping in July (Photo by V.A. McMillan)

Now to follow-up the Tahoe Mod: Sleeping Platform Project (https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/tahoe-mods-sleep-platform-designed-by.html), with a look at the area around the rear jump seat. While, the sleep platform was designed to enable sleeping wherever I parked the Tahoe, the jump seat was being designed to be a comfortable work station while on the road away from my home office - whether for work or study purposes.

Let's start with a quick look at the plans:

Rear Console Plans

This initial plan captured many of the ideas and features that I thought would be helpful to work from the back seat. The console wanted to be arm rest height, fill the space between the seat and the sleep platform, hold my beverage, and aid in working with my tablet mounted to the rear of the passenger head rest. 

The space between the vertical supports is just large enough for a small diesel heater unit, which may be added at a future date...or not. The vertical supports are anchored to the floor using "L" brackets screwed to the support and the anchor bolts for the rear seat that was removed. It is stable enough for its intended use.

Rear Console, Just Installed (May 2021)

Shortly after the rear console was installed the next upgrade was to add a beverage holder at the front. This required using a hole-saw on my drill to cut through the top plywood layer and then add a support shelf below. I made the opening large enough to fit many bottled or canned beverages. 

Beverage Holder

The support shelf can also hold my bluetooth speaker, if required.

The next upgrade was to mount my cellphone holder...while I have had the holder for many months, I just recently found a mini ball mount to make the phone mount more useful. The mini ball mount was from Amazon (https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B085DJ8Y18/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Curious, the price has come up $3 since I purchased this mini ball mount. Even at $13.50 this mount is worth the investment. 

Cellphone, Mount, & Mini Ball Mount

Close Up of Mini Ball Mount

This combo of cellphone mount and mini ball mount allows me to use my phone for video conference calls for school, if needed. The all metal ball mount can be secured in just about any position with tension applied by the single thumb screw, seen on the right side of the mount. One big bonus of this specific mini ball mount was the hot-shoe camera attachment, which screws into the bottom of the mount was used to anchor the mini ball mount to the rear console. No "T" nut and extra screw required!

Rear Console - Ready To Go!

So, now the rear console is ready to go. The head rest tablet mount works well. 

Tablet Mounted

That only leaves a keyboard tray for my wireless keyboard to setup. I have the plywood marked out and ready to finish, I just need to ask a friend for a little assistance with final cuts to round the corners and router out a spot for the keyboard. I will post an update when that has been completed.

Future Keyboard Tray

So, I am pleased with the progress made thus far with the Tahoe Mods. I may make a curtain to separate the front cab area from the rear office/sleeping area at some point in the future. For urban stealth camping a curtain would be prudent to stay unnoticed by persons walking near the vehicle. For camping in the wilderness, this might not be needed. I will keep you posted on any developments.

Until next time...figure out the solution, and then make it happen!!


Other Tahoe Mods

Sleep Platform:  https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/tahoe-mods-sleep-platform-designed-by.html 

Cargo Deck:  https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/building-cargo-organizer-for-my-vehicle.html

Tool Roll:  https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/tool-roll-designed-by-satas-co-for.html

VIAIR Tote Bag:  https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/viair-88p-12v-portable-air-compressor.html

Tablet Mount:  https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/05/improving-amazon-basic-vehicle-tablet.html

26 July 2021

Tahoe Mods: Sleep Platform (Designed by SATAS Co)


Well, I am back with a project update. The sleep platform in the Tahoe is working well. Now is the time to share with you what I have been tinkering with. This blog post will be followed shortly by a post detailing the rear console project (https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2021/07/tahoe-mods-rear-console-project.html).

After last summer's campout near Isola Peak (https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2020/08/isola-peak-kananaskis-country-alberta.html), I found it necessary to modify the back to enable sleeping in the Tahoe, as a more permanent option. So, the 60 of the 60/40 split rear seat was unbolted and put into storage. This added storage space under the sleep platform and reduce a bit of weight.

Next, the area was measured and the plans were drawn up. 

Sleep Platform Plan

Now, I was planning from the beginning to make the back of the Tahoe a sleep area and an office area. So, these plans for the sleeping platform captured the available space and some design ideas. However, all plans are open to modification as information becomes available. In this case, once at the lumber shop it became obvious that a quarter sheet of 3/4" plywood made the most sense for the available space and my limited build budget. So, no fancy radius to cut on a 30" strip of plywood; this would be a straight 24" wide sleep platform from front to back. Easy. Simple. Clean. 

The first challenge was to keep the platform level with the existing cargo organizer in the back (https://mtnmanblog.blogspot.com/2012/04/building-cargo-organizer-for-my-vehicle.html). This was achieved with the use of sturdy hinges bolted to the cargo deck and sleep platform. 

Close Up of the Hinges

Next was how to join the vertical support with the sleep platform. As you may notice in the plan, the thought at that time was to use either another set of hinges or a metal support bracket. In the end, I went with a simple tongue and slot system. This allowed the platform to fold up and out of the way when in transit. 

Slot and Tongue Joint

Now that I have built the platform, if I were to build this again...I would move the slots closer to the driver's seat. The current placement of the vertical support is just in the way of storing my cooler under the platform. If that vertical support was just a few inches to the left...

I tested the sleep platform out earlier this year with just the closed cell camping pads on top of the plywood. It provided plenty of firm support, but no give for comfort. This motivated me to build a open cell foam pad from some scraps of foam and putting them in a fabric cover. Thankfully, I still had some MARPAT Arid camo fabric kicking around.

Soft Sleep Pad

The sleep pad cover had hook & loop flaps at each end, so the cover can be washed from time-to-time.

Close Up

With the addition of the "soft" foam, the sleep platform is now more comfortable to sleep on. Here are a couple of shots with the travel pillows and sleeping bag in place.

Sleep Pad and Pillows

Ready To Use

That's about it for now on the sleep platform. The Tahoe is getting ready for more camping trips. In case you missed some of the previous projects I will add the links below:

Until next time...build what you need!! Then, go camping and use it!!


18 July 2021

Canada First Model for National Defence: Air Assets


Helo Flying Over High River, Alberta 2018 (Photo by V.A. McMillan)

This post will bring this discussion on a Canada First Model for National Defence to a close for the time being. Before exploring Air Assets, here are links to the previous parts of this discussion:




As has been discussed previously, a Canada First Model for National Defence wants to have a Canadian focus. A focus on meeting Canadian strategic, tactical, and operational needs FIRST! Further, these assets want to be build in Canada, by Canadian companies, employing Canadian workers at fair living wages. This process wants to be free of petty political interference and political pork barrelling patronage. This wants to respect and honour the Canadian taxpayer who will fund this and protect the national security of Canadians who call Canada home. 

To increase the strategic, tactical, and operational level of the Royal Canadian Air Force, they need the tools to do their job. In my opinion, those tools could look like this:

 I will suggest quantities in Squadron (Sqn) units. Maybe a current air force personnel could educate me on how many aircraft - primary and reserve, constitute a squadron. For now, we will use the Sqn unit to allocate type of aircraft and which region they would be based from. I have maintained the same regions as previously presented for Naval and Land Assets - Pacific, Prairie, Central Canada, Atlantic, and Northern. Remember this is a starting point for a discussion on how to defend Canada from all enemies foreign and domestic. The actual numbers needed may far exceed the chart above, however, the chart above exceeds our current inventory. We can agree to disagree, except that we need more assets to give our fighting men and women the best chance at completing their mission and survival on the modern battlefield.


 Canada is a HUGE country with a small population; thus, we need interceptor aircraft that can be deployed to prevent intrusions into our sovereign airspace. Otherwise, that airspace will no longer be ours. This concept was well understood during the Cold War Era. In fact, Canada developed the BEST interceptor ever in the late 1950's, the AVRO Arrow, built by the A.V. Roe Company. There have been great debates over the decades about the AVRO Arrow and whether Canada should have continued to manufacture them or bow down to external pressures to kill the program. Evidently, the Arrow program was deep-sixed. However, if rumours are true all documents for this aircraft are sealed and kept safe...somewhere. Meaning the Arrow could be resurrected. So, since this was an aircraft ahead of its time in a military performance point-of-view, a new version of this craft could still be the best bet for Canada's defence in the skies. I would suggest a new version would maintain all the original avionics and controls as backups to modern computer aided flight controls. The original control system, while outdated by today's standards was designed to operate in an EMP environment which modern electronics have challenges with.

The Arrow Mk I out performed any jet aircraft in the mid-1950's; and that was with sub-standard engines. The Mk II was to be upgraded to the proper engines and Mk III and Mk IV versions were being developed to improve this platform even more. Imagine a large interceptor jet that can be used for air-to-air missions, carry nuclear and non-nuclear payloads, or surveillance gear. Although, too large for dogfighting, in the interceptor role this aircraft, even today, would excel. 

Arrow Mk II

Arrow Mk IV

Super Arrow

The Super Arrow project makes me think someone else shares the sentiment that the Arrow should make a comeback and become the primary air defence aircraft in Canada.


As Canada is such a large country, it is unreasonable for all tactical aircraft to be hidden away on fortified airfields in remote locations. To this end, in my opinion, it would be advisable to have military airstrips near each large urban area in Canada. Each of these airstrips would support at least one squadron of Local Air Defence aircraft. These aircraft want to be fast and nimble, deployable in minutes, and carry enough munitions to cause enemy aircraft to backoff from civilian targets. I am thinking something of the magnitude of an Alpha Jet. It does not need to be an Alpha Jet, just a nimble little fighter jet that can get the job done. 

Alpha Jet

This is one product I would hope could be manufactured by Bombardier. Most Canadians are sick and tired of the various federal governments that seem to feel compelled to had over millions of tax dollars to support this company. I would prefer, if funds are needed to be handed out that Canadians see something in return. An Alpha Jet sized fighter jet might be worth giving Bombardier one more chance to give back to Canada. Like building ships or armoured fighting vehicles, we need Canadian manufacturers to build aircraft. If Bombardier is not up to the task, maybe another company will rise to the challenge. The political elites killed the A.V. Roe Company when they cancelled the Arrow. And it is a long time since World War Two when Canada had many aviation companies making planes of many types. 

The tactical advantage to having a squadron of Local Air Defence fighters would be response time in minutes not hours. 


The Air Superiority Fighter is for meeting international agreements/commitments - NORAD & NATO. These aircraft have to be able to operate seamlessly with our Allies. The avionics and communications encryption equipment needed for these missions are found in few aircraft. The F-35 Lightning II is an aircraft that is very expensive, however it might be a good aircraft to survive on a modern battlefield. It is what our Allies are selecting as their primary response aircraft and with few options to select from, I would suggest we either pony up and stay in the game or cash out our chips and become like Sweden and become a neutral country without external military operations, focus purely on self-defence. Which would be a tough go without Allies.

F-35 Lightning II

Lame, short sighted, narcissistic defence spending copouts do not help Canada. Second hand CF-18s, second hand submarines, et cetera, et cetera; are putting Canadian Forces personnel in danger. Making already hazardous jobs, downright deadly! Combat is a team sport, if you don't have the right equipment you best stay on the bench, stepping out onto the ice could get you will get clobbered. 


Before new pilots are handed the controls of an expensive fighter jet, they need to learn on something more powerful than a prop driven plane. So, a modern jet trainer would be a needed asset in the inventory. I am suggesting something like the T-45 Goshawk; however, if Bombardier starts manufacturing fighter jets, maybe they could build a trainer version, too. The Goshawk and the Alpha Jet are in a similar size category. I do not have a favourite, other than fast and nimble will win the day.

T-45 Goshawk

As with almost all assets for defending a large country, you need well made equipment that can do the job very well and you need lots and lots of them. Whatever the Local Air Defence aircraft is, make the trainer an unarmed version of that aircraft and increase the inventory of a single platform. 



To support successful operations you need accurate, timely intelligence...which is best obtain from first hand sources. To this end, the Canadian Forces needs to ensure it has timely access to information of what is happening on the battlefield. This is can be achieved with the deployment of Reconnaissance Aircraft. Here I see two aircraft with separate missions. First, would be a Mk IV Arrow (or newer variant) which has a few air-to-air missiles for local defence from hostile aircraft and the rest of the carrying capacity being devoted to surveillance equipment and extra or larger fuel tanks. The Arrow was already fast in the Mk I, the other versions were even faster. When your aircraft is flying in hostile air, being fast and giving your foes as little time as possible to shoot you, gives you a survival edge. The second is for sub hunting; in this case the updated CP-140 Aurora is still a good aircraft for this mission. 

AVRO Arrow Mk IV

CP-140 Aurora - ASW Sub Hunter

Canada has had a problem, a re-occurring problem, with military equipment purchases...it has not been what we purchase; rather how long we keep the exact equipment in service. The CF-18 is a good plane. The Sea King is a good helicopter. The Aurora is a great plane. The problem comes when inept government types fail to purchase replacements in a timely fashion. Every piece of military equipment from rifles to aircraft have a SERVICE LIFE, when you exceed that you put people's lives at risk unnecessarily!!!


Canada has two cargo aircraft missions - Strategic and Tactical. Strategic is usually over greater distances and usually a tactical bound behind enemy fire. While, tactical transports are generally over shorter distances but closer to the enemy. 

We have a good strategic cargo aircraft in the C-17 Globemaster. It has a large lift ability and can travel great distances...we just need more of them.

C-17 Globemaster

We also have a good tactical cargo aircraft in the C-130 Hercules. We should upgrade and enhance our fleet of C-130's to C-130J's. Again, the challenge is not the plane but the quantity and having enough deployed at strategic separation from each other. 

C-130J Hercules
We should have at least one squadron of C-130J's in each province. These aircraft are important for the military and for emergency management operations like forest fires, floods, or tornadoes; to bring in relief supplies.


The C-130 family of aircraft are available in a great variety of configurations. The three variants that could be useful in Canada include the water tanker (fighting forest fires), the airtanker (air-to-air refuelling), and Special Operations variant. 

I doubt Canadians would ever endorse getting a Spectre gunship version of the C-130...so no need to bring up that version. Canadian Forces members who work in harm's way of course would like to know someone on high is watching their six and capable of suppressing any threats with the depression of a trigger...

So, let's look at something a little less scary than the AC-130 Spectre...the C-130-SOF.

C-130 SOF Operations Support Aircraft

The C-130-SOF provides the technical support, communications support, and close ground support that advance infantry operations require to stay healthy on the battlefield. Canada would not need many of these aircraft...however, if a few were available for those important missions they would be a Godsend to the troops on the ground. Just saying...


Search & Rescue (SAR) missions can happen anywhere, at anytime...those in need of help see a SAR Tech as a prayer being answered. With the C-115 Buffalo being replaced by the C-295 Kingfisher, we are making steps in the right direction in so far as replacing aging aircraft. 

CC-295 Kingfisher SAR Aircraft

The only question, do we have any manufacturers in Canada who can build mission specific aircraft?? Like for SAR missions?? Is de Haviland still in business?? I believe they built the C-115 Buffalo.

While fixed wing aircraft are important for searching large areas and stay aloft for hours, when the mission switches to rescue mode, you need aircraft which can hover, land on a dime, and take-off without a runway. Canada has two helicopters to answer these needs - the CH-146 Griffon and the CH-149 Cormorant. We, again, just need to make sure we have enough to meet the needs of Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

CH-146 Griffon

CH-149 Cormorant


To stay abreast with the ever changing technologies on the battlefield I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Canada needs to have Remote Piloted Vehicles (drones) in our arsenal. I do not have any pictures for this category, but I am confident there are Canadian companies with the skills and technology necessary to ensure the Canadian Forces could have a fleet of drones for battlefield support armed with anti-tank missiles and another fleet of drones designed for surveillance. 

Future design improvements might also allow for other missions like SAR - where the drone would land at the site where the survivors are to provide needed supplies until weather clears for SAR Tech to parachute in or SAR helicopters to land. 


The last category for discussion, Bombers...do we still need the capability to drop bombs on ground targets?? Laser guided munitions help reduce collateral damage. If we are in a self-defence position, would it be prudent to have the ability to repel attackers around our cities by dropping bombs on them?? Or is this outdated thinking all together?? For the sake of discussion, I would suggest if we do need the capability to drop bombs, we would need an aircraft lift the C-17 Globemaster, that was adapted for dropping bombs. The C-17 has a good lift capability, it is quick, and has a long flight range. 

There you have it, my thoughts on what it would take to properly defend Canada from all enemies foreign and domestic on the seas, land, or in the air. Post your thoughts if you care to enter this discussion and let's see what kind of solutions we can generate. 

Until next time...work on solutions!



28 June 2021

Where Are All The Leaders?? Political Leaders? Military Leaders? Community Leaders?


Hailstone Butte, Alberta (Photo by V.A. McMillan, 2021)

Where have all the Leaders gone?? Has anyone else noticed a severe lack of Leaders?? Are there examples of strong community Leaders in Canada?? How about business Leaders?? Industry Leaders?? When, I say Leader, I mean persons with strong moral and ethical compasses that bring more good into the world than the grief they cause. 

In contrast, currently in Canuckistan, we have a plethora of examples of piss-poor leadership and self-serving, morally bankrupt, greedy opportunists. Pick an "ism" and their contrived smile can be found in a "selfie". Before Bill C-10 and/or Bill C-36 remove my right to Freedom of Expression; I would like to explore the topic of Leadership, when our Nation needs it the most. I want this to be a positive post so I will end here on the negatives and poor examples. 

With the exception of some very brave and courageous Religious Leaders, who are leading by example on how to deal with tyranny subjected from the very government that is suppose to serve The People. There seems to be an enormous void in identifiable Leaders in Canada, today. 

Where are the political Leaders?? Of any stripe?? If Ralph Klein was here you can bet your ass he would have told Ottawa where they could shove their pandemic response and what they could do with the "Green Energy Scheme". Love him or hate him, Ralph Klein, was a Leader! But where are the other political Leaders?? Anywhere?? We do not have a Winston Churchill at this time. Or Maggie Thatcher?? Ronald Regan?? Or, even a Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao, or Uncle Ho. We are living in a time with an incredible absence of Leaders!!

Where are the Military Leaders in Canada?? We do not seem to have any competent Leaders?? Ones who may be capable seem to be subject to character assassinations in every media venue available. This is crazy. Where are the Arthur Curry's?? The Lew MacKenzie's?? The Rick Hillier's?? The Cy Peck's?? The Victor Odlum's?? What the hell is happening?? The military is not a fashion show nor a social experiment. You go in as "I" and you become "WE". Then, if you are fortunate you get forged together into members of a UNIT, for the express purpose of completing a MISSION. The highest MISSION being to defend Canada from Her enemies, and to protect Canadians. 

Without Leaders, who will rally the Troops?? Without Leaders, who will rally the Citizens?? Without Leaders, who will rally neighbours?? Without Leaders, who will SAVE CANADA??

On this Canada Day, look around...find the Leaders. Find them, and encourage them to step up to the plate. With Leaders, ready and able, we can save Canada. 

Until next time...ask yourself - Are you part of the solution? Or, part of the problem??

Liberty & Freedom!


14 June 2021

Could've Been Postcards


Yesterday, 13 June 2021, was a phenomenal day for a drive in Southern Alberta. It was sunny and warm; just enough clouds to make photos interesting. Captured a few good photos worth sharing, I hope you agree.

This was a ram not far from Bear Pond on the #532.

This young ram was working a mineral lick on the #532.

The Willow Valley School (circa 1914) and Centre Peak.

Finally, a quintessential Alberta ranchscape image. Cattle and mountains.

It is good to get out, travel the highways and byways; and always bring a camera. You never know what you will see. 

Until next time...capture some great pics!