Sunday, January 31, 2010

Las Vegas

We’re in another of our Thousand Trails parks in Las Vegas.  Yesterday we had lunch with Ron & Sherrill Andres in Lake Havasu

and then spent the night in Mojave Junction with Clifford & Sonja Allen.  Clifford called me in the morning and asked how I liked my burgers.  In case you ever have the chance to have one of his hamburgers be warned – mother used less hamburger in one of her meatloaves than Clifford puts in a single burger.  We’re talking enough ground steer to give me collywobbles all night but they sure were good while we were eating them.  And just for good measure we each had a rib that must have come from the last living mastodon. 

Clifford is the guy who gave us our awning last winter & I consider myself lucky to know him.  He has forgotten more about busses and 2-stroke Detroits than most of us will ever know.  Whenever I am around him I can feel myself absorbing knowledge.  I just wish I could retain a higher percentage of what he tells me.  Today we talked about my slobber tubes and he gave me a spare fuel pump.  Just on the off chance that any readers know anything about these bulbs I thought I’d post a picture for him.  He needs some of them to replace some backlights on the dash of his bus.

We had a leisurely drive today up through Bullhead, over to Searchlight and then into Las Vegas.  I have mixed emotions about this place.  There’s lots of pretty stuff here and we’ve had some fun times here but I detest the attitude of the town.  This is the town that losers built and the residents will get you if you give them half a chance.  Its also a dangerous place.  People get killed here regularly and hardly an hour goes by without some kind of a siren wailing nearby.  Some people marvel about our willingness to travel in Mexico but personally I’d far rather visit Mexico than Las Vegas if safety was my concern.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Plugged in again

We were close to a month unplugged.  A big part of the purpose of going to Quartzsite was to see how we managed “off the grid” and we

did good.  Aside from the generator head failure we had power when we wanted it and could live the way we wanted to despite being disconnected from an electric utility.  Even without the generator we did pretty well.  Well enough that we know a relatively small investment in solar panels would enable us to get along for extended periods without running the generator.

Of course when we already have the investment in the generator we are going to run it.  We’re not into solar for the sake of solar nor are we setting out to prove something by deliberately living off the grid for extended periods of time.  But its nice to know that we can when we need to.  We’ve run into people who seem to need to prove something by how long they can live unplugged but that isn’t us.  And it simply isn’t cost effective to buy solar panels for the power they generate – its still way cheaper to burn a little diesel fuel than it is to buy solar panels.  When you see all the wind power in southern California its not hard to understand why that state is broke.  By and large alternate energy doesn’t work financially.

Monday morning we had another round of goodbyes – ours this time.  Sunday was pretty well consumed with saying goodbye as most of the rally attendees dribbled out over the course of the day.  Larry and Tom were underneath Larry’s GMC first thing Monday morning and emerged to say that he had a blown airbag.  Fortunately the guy next to him carried two spares so a repair was possible.  It was leaking so badly that Larry had trouble getting up enough air to release the maxis but eventually he did.  I wasn’t being much use so we headed up the road to Lake Havasu City, stopping along the way for a Safeway raid.

We landed at Cattail Cove State Park which is a lovely spot.  We’ve checked it out in the past but never stayed here.  We’ve got a couple of friends that stay in Lake Havasu for the winter so we often come through the area but in the past we have always stayed at a private park in town.  Its a little pricey and not that scenic so this time we did the State Park thing.  The US State Parks are wonderful – we haven’t found one of them that we don’t like.  Unfortunately some of them are now being closed by budget strapped state governments but maybe that trend will eventually reverse itself.  It would be a shame to lose the parks.

Shortly after we arrived Tom & Doreen stopped in on their way back to Kingman.  We all ended up going to the China Buffet for supper before they headed out.  Lake Havasu has some excellent restaurants and one of our favourites is the China Buffet.  We also have a little family owned Mexican spot that we need to get to before we leave.

I put my head down yesterday and got a draft hammered out on a project that I have had on the go for a couple of months now.  I’ve got some bus maintenance that I would rather be doing but the project had to get submitted and it finally did.  With all the generator time we ran up at Quartzsite I’m seriously overdue for an oil change on the generator.  We also managed to lose three of our levelling blocks when the big flood came by.  We had them set out to make a bridge across the creek in front of the bus but when it turned from a creek into a torrent the blocks got washed away.  They were landing gear pads for semi trailers so it took a lot of water to get them moving but I couldn’t find them – they must have gone a long way.  So now I need to make a run to Home Depot and spend a few hours building some new ones.  Fortunately the two heaviest pads that we lost were also the two that I would have chosen to lose, had I been given that choice, so now I can replace them with something a little better.

We’re booked into Las Vegas Thousand Trails starting Sunday and after that we haven’t made any plans.  Some friends that we met years ago at Whispering Pines are coming to Vegas for their first time so we are looking forward to showing them around.  We haven’t been across the Hoover Dam since 9/11 and they want to see the dam so we’ll do that and get some pictures of the new bridge at the same time.  As I understand it they don’t have the new bridge open yet but it must be substantially complete now.  We’ll likely head over to the Sedona/Prescott area after we leave Las Vegas but like I said, we haven’t thought that far ahead yet.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rallying hard

We’re coming up on a week in Rice Ranch now and the rally is going

hard.  Despite the rain and cold we’ve been having a lot of fun.  We had the bus so full of guests the night before last it felt like we were back in Mexico.  George is also happy to see some old friends again.

The night before last we got the rains that you have been hearing about in California.  Actually I didn’t think

it rained all that much right here but I guess in the desert it doesn’t so much matter how much it rains where you are.  What matters is how much it rains wherever your water comes from.  The picture of the busses lined up under the bright blue sky was taken the day we arrived.  On Thursday night my shadow
in that picture would have been under about a foot of water.  We had a river flowing 100 yards wide in front of the bus.   It washed out the crossing to the back part of Rice Ranch leaving over half the busses at the rally temporarily stranded.  I don’t think this was the first time they had seen this happen here because before 10:00 AM they had the culvert stuffed back in place, the sand
packed over it and some fresh crushed rock scattered over the top. 

This next photo is kind of out of sequence because it is of the flock of Eagles arriving.  A bunch of them held a pre-rally east of town so that they could all arrive at the same time.  Its kind of a general rule at rallies that if you want to park together then you need to arrive together.  That makes the job of the parking guys somewhat manageable, although not completely without its challenges.  Some of the Eagle guys solve that by arriving in a 30 bus convoy which is pretty impressive when it rolls into town. 

Today we have one last day of rally activities and then tomorrow I expect most of the group will start to bug out.  A lot of the people here are names that I know through their online activities at the two bus bulletin boards so it has been a lot of fun putting faces to names.  Michael Hargis (our rally entertainment) had some fun last night with what is often a disconnect between our expectations about the appearance of someone we have never met and the reality when we finally meet them.  Some of that fun was at my expense but that’s OK – I give as good as I get.  You listening Michael?  I owe you now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 1 at Rice Ranch

We decided to move early in order to avoid any possible rain delays

on the desert.  The local news media seems to think the weather is going to be a lot worse than Accuweather is predicting.  I’m disinclined to think we are going to get any significant amount of rain but on the other hand we really wanted to attend this rally.  So late in the day yesterday we moved into town. 

We had to wait until late in the day because the RV show is on now and traffic around here gets more than a little congested.  Here in this case being Rice Ranch in Quartzsite.  The traffic on the highway and the road in front of Rice Ranch gets pretty well gridlocked during the day.  Plus the nice folks at Rice Ranch who told Larry he could hold a bus rally here aren’t above renting the same space out again to every Tom, Dick and Harry who comes along looking for a place to park for the day.  I didn’t want to try to negotiate either the road traffic or the parking lot traffic so we waited until after the show closed to make our move.

There’s a lot of folks here who we met last winter on the casino parking lot south of Tucson.  We were particularly looking forward to seeing Tom & Doreen Caffrey again and they showed up overnight.  Jorgito was particularly happy to see Doreen.  I tried to arrange an adoption but wasn’t successful.

Tom spent most of his day on his knees beside one of the other busses at the rally.  I and several others were busy making ourselves scarce because the owner of the bus was very obviously looking for someone to do repairs for free.  I listened to him “explaining” his

problems last night and after about the fourth time of hearing amps used to mean volts I concluded that I didn’t really want to hear any more.  But Tom is a much better man than I will ever be and he proved it by spending most of his day kneeling on the cold ground fixing the guy’s furnace. 

Today we went for a quick wander through the RV show but it seemed that it was more of a household gadget show with the occasional booth dealing with RVs.  There was an impressive turnout from the western provinces in one corner of the tent.  I don’t mind seeing our tax dollars spent to encourage tourism. 

No matter how much promotion is done though our neighbour here won’t be swayed.  He pulled in last night in a gorgeous Eagle but we didn’t get to meet until this morning.  The NRA crest on his jacket gave me a head’s up and we were only about 2 minutes into the conversation before he managed to work in that he would never visit Canada because he couldn’t bring along his 45.  Now I’m about as open minded with regard to gun ownership as anybody you are likely to meet.  I happen to think that our government has its head squarely up its ass when it comes to gun registration.  But give me a break already – if anybody is so damned stupid as to avoid travelling in Canada because they can’t bring their pseudo-penis along then they shouldn’t advertise the fact.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

90 days from start to finish

When people convert busses into motorhomes often the project takes on a life of it’s own.  For some people the process of creating the conversion is the whole point of the exercise.  Those people spend years making everything just right and don’t seem to mind that they never get much time to actually live in their new creation.  At the

other end of the spectrum there are people like us who know we are too anxious to get on with living in the bus to actually spend any time creating it.  So we bought a bus that somebody else had already converted.  There’s also a significant portion of bus owners who never actually get their conversion to where they could use it even if they
wanted to.  Those shells end up either sitting in a yard slowly rotting away or the lucky few go on to another owner who may or may not have more patience and success than the first one.

Michael and Christi Hargis are they only people I know who can claim that they took a bus from a seated passenger coach to a motorhome conversion in 90 days.  There may be a few other folks in that elite crowd but I have never met them.  Drawing on a background as

general contractors they had access to techniques and materials that the average homebuilder might not even know about but most of Mrs. Jones
(the Hargis coach) is built with pretty mundane materials.  Despite the rapid construction it looks really good. Michael and Christi have embarked on a career as travelling entertainers.  Anyone interested in reading the story of their conversion can find it here
Yesterday and this morning we got a chance to see Mrs. Jones up close.   

Michael is the featured entertainment at the bus rally this week so we are looking forward to seeing more of them.  In the meantime they had to head back to California for a few days. 

Friday, January 15, 2010

International waste of skin

Ban-ke-sun-mynugn-moon-fuck-upski was on the TV this morning trying to get in front of the international relief effort for Haiti.  He promised that he personally would be going to the island in the near future.  That’ll be a big help.

Was I the only one who noticed that within 24 hours of the disaster it was the Americans – not the U.N. – who moved in to reopen the airport?  These would be the same evil Americans who constantly get accused of not being good world citizens.  And the same Americans who promptly pledged $100 million for aid to Haiti likely before the aforementioned waste of skin ever got around to thinking about what the U.N. might do. 

Obviously what happened in Haiti is a massive tragedy but it will ultimately be compounded by the lunacy of the U.N.  It’s too bad U.N. headquarters wasn’t located in Port au Prince.  It would be even better if they had shared office space there with the I.O.C.

Powered up again

Mark & Donna showed up here a couple of days ago now.  On Wednesday I happened to check on the progress of our mail and discovered that it was already delivered in Phoenix.  We get our UPS store to ship it to another UPS store near to wherever we happen to be and usually UPS is bang on the estimated delivery date.  You can check the progress of the mail online and I had done that on Wednesday, noting that it was “out for delivery” Wednesday morning.  Typically that means that there will be no more news until the evening at which time it will show as “delivered”.  For some reason I checked the status at noon and there it was, delivered.

So we dashed around and left almost immediately for Phoenix.  Mark & Donna came with us to see the bright lights.  I managed to miss the exit to pick up the generator on the way in so we picked up the mail and drove downtown so they could see that before returning to Glendale to pick up the generator head.  Then they took us out for a very late lunch somewhere – can’t remember the name of the place now – and we hit Safeway before returning to Quartzsite.  Phoenix is a great place to drive – one of my favourite cities in North America.  Its entirely built on the square and they must have great engineers, hard as that is for me to admit.

Yesterday morning I got the generator stuffed back into its hidey hole using the appropriate amount of blood as a lubricant in the process.  The women went shopping while Mark and I did bus maintenance.  He told them to pick up band-aids because bloodletting seems to be a fundamental part of his bus maintenance program as well. 

All my worrying about the generator head not being the right part or the mounting brackets not being right turned out to be unnecessary.  It went back in and has worked just fine.  I’m still dealing with a couple of fuel leaks but I think I may even have them under control now.  I ran the generator for a while just to show the surrounding rigs what a noisy generator should sound like although in fairness to our Kubota I don’t think it holds a candle to whatever is in the Newell that I posted pictures of a few days ago. 

After I got done bleeding on my generator I started helping Mark damage the suspension on Papabus.  Papabus is their MCI conversion.  Papabus is currently sitting about 1.5 inches low in the stern and we are attempting to cure that situation.  We have a very creative solution involving eye bolts, dremel tool, black mastic adhesive, scraps of fuel hose, gear clamps and duct tape.  OK, maybe not duct tape but everything else is definitely involved (and blood of course).  This morning will tell the tale whether or not it is going to work.  There’s not much room under a bus to begin with and I learned yesterday that busses with inboard airbags (like MCI has) have even less room underneath than the frenchy-bus has.

I told Mark yesterday that one of the greatest gifts my father gave me is the knowledge that I can build or fix anything if I only have the necessary imagination.  A couple of days ago Marilyn & I were walking through the endless rock vendors in town and I happened to mention that father & I had built a rock tumbler about a hundred years ago.  We built it out of gallon paint cans and washing machine rollers.  She said something about how many different things we had done together and we truly did – every thing from rock polishers to kayaks to photo darkrooms.  Not to mention that he built two RVs and a garage that I got to help with.  But the important lesson he taught me along the way was that with not much money and a lot of imagination everything is possible.

I was reminded of that lesson when I folded my recently modified solar panels down and subsequently brought the “support brackets” to the ground with me.  The “support brackets” are actually pieces of 3/4” conduit that I beat into shape with a large hammer, drilled and then added random bolts that I happened to have onboard.  I realized that I was turning into my father when I noticed that I had a Robertson, Phillips and a slot screwdriver out in order to tighten 8 bolts.  But I didn’t have to go to town and spend money to buy the bolts – they were all in my bolt can when I started the project.  They may all have different heads and they may all be random lengths and they may look a little crude but they were all just junk before they became essential components of my solar brackets.  I’m turning into my father.  R.J., Marlan & Michael – this is your future.

Monday, January 11, 2010

More Quartzsite

There’s always been a guy here selling farm junk.  One year I remember he had a John Deere 70 gas with some stupid price – like $6500 maybe – and a SOLD tag hanging on it.  At the time I had just sold a 70 diesel that was in a lot better shape than the gasser down here and I thought I was damn lucky to get $2200 for it.  The guy who bought it thought I was damn lucky to get that too because he came back about a year later and wanted warranty on the governor.  But that’s another story involving a notable member of the Garrick NDP. 

We took the day off yesterday but this afternoon there we were wandering around the junk sellers again.  In the “John Deere” picture you can see that this year he has several units on display.  There was a B and an M as well as a 730 diesel and an 830.  The 730 had about 3/8” of endplay in the crank but the 830 looked pretty good.  He wanted $10,000 for the 830 – I’m no John Deere authority but that has to be at least twice what they were worth new – maybe more.

Our little corner of the desert is starting to fill up.  Some of the areas are positively crowded now – we’re not too bad yet but every day brings more neighbours.  There’s a gorgeous Newell coach parked at about 10:00 out our front window now.  For some reason the area where we are hasn’t attracted big groups despite being well suited to them.  This area seems to be filling with individual

travellers or groups of two.  We’ve got a couple of different friends that we expect to drop in on us for a few nights over the course of the next week.  After that we’ll move into town to the site of the bus rally.  Its hard to believe that January is almost half gone already.  It seems like we just arrived here.

We’ve been loving the weather and particularly so since it is so much better than everywhere else.  We thought Florida was bad last winter but it sounds like it is awful this year and western Canada is just plain bad, as usual.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


A couple of nights ago we were sitting here on the desert minding our own business with the generator humming away in the background.  It was humming quieter than it used to a year ago – all my efforts in that regard have not been fruitless but its still more than noticeable when it is running. So we both immediately noticed when it hiccupped and then dropped to idle.  The engine has an idle control on it that takes it to idle whenever there is no load but there was no reason for there not to be a load at that moment.

We need to run about 3 or 4 hours of generator time every day to support our lifestyle.  Otherwise our batteries get too depleted, even with the fancy new tilt up brackets that we now have on our two solar panels.  The generator isn’t under much load when it is charging the batteries – at most it puts 70 or 80 amps into them and that quickly tapers off to 20 or 25 amps at 12 volts which is something under 300 watts.  If we put too much load on the generator it has an internal circuit breaker which will trip and cause it to idle down but battery charging alone couldn’t have caused that.  When I went out to look it pretty soon became clear that the generator head had suffered some kind of calamity.  I could see shiny ends of copper wires on the stator windings that looked like they had burned themselves off – not a good sign.

Since then we have been subsisting on solar power and doing rather well I might add.  Yesterday I pulled the generator head out and we drove it to Phoenix where I left it with some very nice people at Allstate Electric.  I had phoned my friend Clifford the night before but he didn’t have any particular recommendations so we took the closest motor winder on the west side of Phoenix & I think we stumbled on a good one.  Danny said he would tear it apart and call me this morning and he was as good as his

word.  When he called though he said the reason the stator winding had burned up was because the voltage regulator had failed.  The voltage regulator is one of those anonymous little bits of black plastic with wires coming out of it and I knew from experience with other similar bits of black plastic that it wasn’t likely to be a cheap piece of plastic, no matter how small or insignificant it might appear to be.

After several phone calls by me and Danny we tracked down a Kubota partsman who in turn was able to track down a regulator which – for an obscene amount of money – was relatively quickly available.  It was in Alabama I believe.  When I called Danny back with that news he suggested that I should at least check to see what a new stator was worth and that conversation led into one about a whole new generator head from Kubota.  So that is where we are now – waiting for a generator head from Kubota to arrive in Phoenix from Kubota’s warehouse somewhere in California.  The partsman seemed surprised that parts for this particular generator were as readily available as it appears they are.  I’m not wild about dumping more money into this moneypit but I am reassured that there still are enough of these gensets running that Kubota feels it is worthwhile to stock parts for them.

Losing our generator has taught us to keep a close eye on our power consumption but it hasn’t stopped us from living.  The TV is a huge power hog so we have sworn off it until we get our batteries built back up.  Today was a cloudy day so we didn’t make much headway but yesterday we gained close to 10% over the day.  Over time we have built up the tools necessary to actually monitor what we are doing and know what we are capable of and that feels pretty good.  Last year we worked hard at reducing our consumption with LED and fluorescent lighting.  We also installed a monitoring system so we actually know what our batteries are doing.  We have about 750 amp hours of battery capacity but it is very important to only use the top half of that in order to get reasonable life out of the batteries.  We have a Bogart Engineering Trimetric system which counts the individual amps coming and going from the batteries and displays a running tally of our battery state of charge.  That same system also allows us to very accurately determine what it “costs” us in energy to use any particular appliance.  Normally we don’t worry about it because we just make up the difference with a few more minutes of generator time but until we get the generator back in service that isn’t an option.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

All alone with 100,000 other RVers

The first time we ever stopped at Quartzsite we swore that we’d never come back.  For those who don’t know, the town of Quartzsite isn’t much more than a crossroads in the middle of the desert more or less halfway between Phoenix and Los Angeles.  For most of the year it’s two off-ramps, a few fuel stations and a McDonalds.  I doubt there’s more than 500 year round residents of the dusty little town. 


But for 5 or 6 weeks in the winter, starting about now, Quartzsite comes alive.  Apparently for some reason rock and gem enthusiasts started gathering here to swap rocks.  Over time that rock swap turned into a flea market and RVers started making this a regular stop in late January and early February.  Eventually an RV trade show sprang up. 

The first time we came here the traffic was awful.  The roads were clearly set up to handle the 500 regular residents but there were

probably in excess of 100,000 RVs in and around town and the streets just couldn’t handle them all. It was quicker to walk anywhere in town, regardless of distance, at any time after about 11 A.M.  We had bicycles along that time so we used them to get
around because driving was nearly impossible.

For some reason we kept coming back and eventually it became a habit and something that we actually look forward to.  Over the years since we started coming here they have seriously upgraded the highways & roads through town.  That makes it a lot easier to get around now and I think the recession has reduced the crowds too. 

There’s not a whole lot to “do” at Quartzsite.  There’s the flea market of course, and an RV show but that isn’t really why most people end up here.  The show & flea market may be an excuse but most people end up at Quartzsite to visit with old friends, meet new ones and stay more or less for free on the desert.  The town obviously can’t have anywhere close to enough RV sites for all the short term winter visitors so they all just find a convenient cactus and park next to it somewhere in the desert.

RVers refer to desert parking like this as boondocking and there is a great variety of approaches to the activity.  You might say everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.  We’re pretty heavy power users and we don’t like altering our lifestyle just because we happen to be parked on the desert.  That makes living without a power pedestal pretty challenging.  We put some solar panels on the roof this summer, thank you very much Alison & Camiel.  We’ve also reduced our power consumption by changing our lighting over to LEDs and fluorescent.  Even so it still takes a lot of generator time to support our lifestyle. 

Marilyn likes to have the TV on pretty well every waking hour.  We both have our computers on most of the time.  Both the TV receiver and internet modem take significant amounts of power.  And all that is before we ever toast any toast, roast any roasts, curl anyone’s hair or make tea and coffee.  I spent most of today modifying the solar panel mounts so that I can tip them up to face the sun.  As the sun gets lower in the sky through the winter the output of the solar panels declines dramatically.  I did a little test this morning before I started – my panels were putting out just under 2 amps – I tipped them up temporarily and the output went to over 6 amps.  That’s still not a lot of amps but it’s 3 times what I was getting before.  Considering that I have 200 watts of panels the 6 amp output (at 12 volts) represents something like a 30% efficiency.  The best we did during the day was 9.5 amps or 47.5% efficient.  So that’s not great but it’s better than where I started.

The next step is to add two more panels.  When I put the ones I have on I deliberately put in a controller that can handle more panels so all I need to do now is bolt the panels to the roof and wire them to my collector box, also on the roof.  I had hoped that panels might be a bargain here because it is such an RV destination but apparently the exact opposite is true.  So we’ll end up making a run to Phoenix sometime next week to pick up a couple of panels and then I’ll have another day’s work mounting them.  At least now I have a design for the hinged brackets necessary to tip them up so that whole process should go a little faster.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Smack dab in the middle of pretty

When the ranger at Rancho Oso came by this morning I told him that it seems the longer we do this the slower we are at getting departed.  When the kids were small we used to be up and on the road first thing in the morning so that we could be in camp in the early afternoon.  We carried that pattern over into our travels but lately it seems like we are lucky if we are mobile by noon.

Fortunately we didn’t have far to go today.  We moved about 20 miles south of Santa Barbara to a spot where they more or less park on the side of the highway next to the ocean.  I think they call it a state park but its really just a wide spot in the highway where they rent out 45’ of asphalt for $25 per night.  And that’s exactly all you get – 45’ of blacktop – no
water, no sewer and no electric, nothing but a whole bunch of pretty.  So we won’t be staying long but it’s been pretty nice nevertheless.

We’ll let the weather in the morning make our plans for us.  If the sun is shining then it’s pretty nice here and we’ll likely spend another night.  If it’s a grey day then it’s still none too warm here on the coast and we’ll likely get heading east.  We’re hoping that once we get on the Arizona desert we’ll find the 70+ degree temperatures that we have been missing lately.

Tonight I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of cheesy sunset photos.  The sky looked promising while we were eating supper and we weren’t disappointed.  There’s a railway embankment on the other side of the highway so I was able to climb up onto the tracks to get some elevation but I had to look sharp because Amtrak comes through here regularly and rapidly.  The guy coming from the south was watching out for idiot tourists but about 5 minutes later there was a train from the north that just went flying by me.

We had dolphins to watch while we were eating supper.  They had something that they liked right in front of where we are parked – I assume there were some fish there that they kept circling back for.  Then as quickly as they arrived they were gone.  Marilyn is still watching for a whale but I’m not holding my breath.

A quiet New Year’s Eve

We stayed up late enough to watch the ball come down in New York.  That was only 11:00 by bus time but still an hour past our normal bedtime.  I guess we stayed up until midnight by Florida time last year but its pretty unusual if we manage to actually see the new year arrive. 

I really just did this to see how well the new plug-in I found for Windows Live Writer works.  It seems to have solved my concern about being able to caption pictures on this weblog.  I’m not sure why that was such a big deal for me but it has really been bothering me.  So already in 2010 I have solved one of the big problems in my life.  That must be a good omen for the rest of the year.

I hope everyone’s 2010 starts as well as mine has.