Trying Times - But fun! Weekly Udate 1-21-13

I left Moab, Utah on the 8th of January with predictions of -25 degree weather, some people have suggested that my winter plans and location were not the best choice and I would have to agree. I spent over two weeks in Moab suffering through below zero weather, dealing with frozen water pipes in the camper, frozen waste tanks and downright cold weather. I can report that the little oil filled electric heater in the camper kept me pretty warm even on the coldest night, so that was good. But I can also report that a camper is not the most comfortable place in weather like that, outside was pretty much off limits and just dealing with the frozen waste tanks was a huge ordeal which required some creative thinking on getting them thawed out so they could be emptied.

I also discovered what happens when the grey water tank is frozen and full. The lowest "drain" in the grey water system is the shower and once the tank is full everything drains into the shower...the shower will hold quite a bit of water and had I not been using it for storage, it would not have been a big deal, but when I discovered it was full of water and removed what had been stored there. A bag full of external hard drives for my computer was a loss. I managed to recover a few of them, but lost two large ones. Happily they were "empty", I had purchased a very large external drive and had emptied all the smaller drives onto it. But a couple hundred dollars worth of hard drives were ruined and made their way to the trash.

So when I saw the prediction of negative 25 degrees it was time to head further South. As it turns out my choice of Kingman AZ was a good one, although when I arrived the weather which was going to affect Moab also arrived in Kingman, being further South it wasn't nearly as bad, but I did experience sub-zero weather, but warmer sunny days to deal with frozen waste tanks and frozen water supply line etc. Much more manageable.

The primary reason I chose Kingman was a wonderful in-expensive campground and it was close to an upcoming Balloon Festival in Lake Havasu City this past weekend, but there was one more trauma to deal with before that!

I live with my computer, it is as much a part of my life as my cameras. I use it in my photography, for work for the Lodge, ever important email, accounting software and online banking and bill paying. It is probably the top asset in my humble abode.

Tuesday Morning January 15th, I awoke and put the water on for coffee and as always opened up the laptop to retrieve email and read the news. Well the computer would start up and run, but nothing could be seen - not the Blue Screen of Death, but rather the black screen of nothing. So I set about to try and solve the problem. Quickly realized the hard drive was operating but the visual part was not working. For those who are familiar with laptops the visual part if built in to the motherboard. So packed up the computer and found a repair place in Kingman, there is really only one, but good people. Bits & Bytes! They ran the usual checks and sure enough the motherboard wad "fried" and I proceeded to shop for a new laptop. The choices in Kingman were not that abundant...Wal-Mart, Staples and the place I took my computer to be analyzed. They had the best offering albeit a touch more than I wanted to spend, but manageable. So on Thursday morning after two days without a computer, getting money transferred etc...I picked up a bright and shiny new laptop. Then the trials of getting everything transferred to the new computer from the old.

I was fortunate here in that I store 90% of my crap on an external drive and I am fairly religious about backing up and copying files to the external drive, but not everything. But, you might remember that the hard drive was functioning, so I removed the hard drive from the old laptop and just so happened to have an external USB case which would hold the drive...remember the flooded shower, it was one of those drive cases. Put the drive in the case and magically everything from my old computer was available to transfer to the new one. I was happy again!

So I spent all day Thursday, well into the evening, digging through an office box I had stored in the front of he trailer with all my software etc. and proceeded to get everything installed and files transferred. I was operational with email and accounting by the end of the day.

My original plans of going to the Balloon Festival on Friday the 18th was still a reality, so off I went for the 1.5 hour drive to Lake Havasu. I arrived and found it to be little more than a glorified County Fair - with rides, food court, dog show, old hot rods and a huge field with 10 or 15 little trailers with balloon stuff, but no balloons up and inflated. Seems it was too windy...disappointed I spent the day wandering aimlessly waiting for the scheduled 3:30 launch. I mingled with the Balloon folks and they all said it was still too windy and they would not be dragging the balloons out to only not be able to fly. But I had a recovery plan, so I headed back to the truck and made plans to drive to an old Ghost Town / Tourist Trap called Oatman, AZ. So off I went, filled the gas tank and took off for the hour long drive, it was a slight detour from a direct path back to the campground, but "on the way" in a circuitous sort of way.

I know most people come here to see my photography and not read a book of all my trials and tribulations, so here are some pictures.

How windy was it...when i returned to the campground, it was my plan to enjoy a very nice Rib-Eye steak on the grill...but the grill refused to stay lit due to the wind, but I seared it, then finished it on the stove in the camper. It was very good!

Now for some pics around the Balloon Festival!

Now off towards Oatman!

Needless to say, Oatman was a worthy side trip and I will return again when I have more time to explore. By the time I got there, many of the stores were closing and so I didn't get to browse much.

Upon my return I went to process my photos only to discover that my version of Adobe Creative Suite had run out of installs and could not be used. I had neglected to upgrade over the years, I was on CS3 and they are now on version CS6, I missed 4 and 5. So I downloaded from Adobe the trial version of 6 - took almost 11 hours, then installed it, took another 2 hours. All during this time, Windows 7 needed 154 updates to be current, as well as Quickbooks 2008, and Microsoft Office etc. So most of Saturday and Sunday was spent getting the computer totally up to date. Restarted the computer a zillion times.

I would have to say that my winter since Pat and I's vacation has been trying to say the least. But all is well now and have great plans for the rest of the winter and next summer.

Good News:

Pat has flight reservations to fly in to Las Vegas for Spring Break and will join me here to explore the area, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon and Fire Valley State Park are on the agenda!

She has also planned a trip to Alaska and Denali where I will be this summer, so all that is very good news.

Still making plans for the huge adventure of driving the truck and trailer to Cantwell Alaska in late April! Should have some great photo ops on that trip.

Thanks everyone for following along and enjoying my mobile life!

One other bit of good news - an interior designer called the other day and has a client he is working with who wants 6 of my pictures of Antelope Canyon. So those have been processed and sized properly for 16 X 20 prints. Now to get this deal done and will more than pay for the new computer!

Capt. Jim - "The Gypsy"

Traveling and photographing the Southwest

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